Loved ones who have passed on remembered
Steve Liggett's 1992 trip to Oaxaca initiated a new festival in Tulsa that remembers the loved ones that have passed on from this life. Dia De Los Muertos or Day of the Dead is now celebrated in Tulsa as a result of his trip to Mexico.
"In 1992, I took a trip to Oaxaca, Mexico," Liggett said. "I was going through a lot of stuff in my life. I was really trying to search out ways of understanding death. I was trying to see what other cultures did with that concept. I basically decided on a whim to go down and investigate it for myself. It was from that trip that inspired me to start something in Tulsa where people could appreciate their loved ones that died."
Now a director at Living Arts in Tulsa, Liggett modeled the Oklahoma festival from what he found in Mexico.
"What I found there was a tremendous experience that was cathartic and meaningful to myself," Liggett said. "I was the tourist going down to check this stuff out. What I found was a group of people coming down from the United States as well as the locals in that region building altars to their deceased loved ones."
The idea of remembering the dead in this way comes from pre-Columbian times in Mexico when the Aztec and Mayans lived in that region. Liggett said the Catholic Church later came in and tried to convert everyone there to the Catholic religion but were unable to convince them to leave behind all of their holidays.
The Day of the Dead is different from the idea of All-Saints Day, which is more of a European holiday, and also should not be confused with Halloween though it takes place the day after.
Liggett found a style of art in the festivities that he saw in Mexico and for 18 years now has been incorporating it into his Living Arts organization.