Now that October and November have finally arrived, the school year is officially in high gear, and as a result, schoolwork has gotten more intense for me—balancing AP classes and The Wave with other community service opportunities. Nonetheless, I’ve been chugging along, and looking for any chance to bust out my phone and document my days off whenever I get them. Like most people, I always look forward to Halloween during this time of year, as the festivities in the Castro District always catch my eye. Right around this time of the year also is Día de los Muertos, a traditional Mexican holiday that is also something I anticipate greatly. So, I headed down to Oakland to check out this amazing exhibit called Rituals + Remembrance at the Oakland Museum of California to learn about the ways that Asian-American, African-American, as well as Latin-American and Chicano communities around the world view death.
The Oakland Museum of California is basically four museums in one: California History, Natural Science, Art, and Special Exhibits. And since I had some time to kill while waiting for my brother to finish his Capoeira class, I decided to stick around and explore the other exhibits, in addition to Rituals + Remembrance.
Naturally, I gravitated to the exhibit I had initially intended on going to, Rituals + Remembrance. In the very center of the exhibit was a vibrant and huge eight-foot mandala by Nancy Hom, entitled Circle of Remembrance (pictured above). This mandala honors her close family and friends with objects that represent her own way of remembering her loved ones, while also connecting everything together. The mandala is meant to remind onlookers that no matter how different we are as individuals, or which traditions we follow, we are all part of the same cycle of life and death.
Although I got the rundown of U.S. History from the AP U.S. History class I took last year, the enormous exhibit of California History on display enlightened me on different historical perspectives that were not shared in our textbook.
The 1960’s and onwards has always been a time period of U.S. history that deeply fascinated me. After all, it was a huge time for cultural and social change in California as well as the rest of the United States. And in my history class, my interest in learning about the 1960’s and ‘70s was honestly my only motivation to not entirely give up on the class itself. My facial expression while learning about the gold standard, the Gilded Age, and other topics basically gave away my thoughts on the class, but that expression of boredom quickly changed once we shifted gears and started to discuss and write about the civil rights, anti-war, environmental justice, and feminist movements; as well as the rise of the Black Panther Party and the Gay Liberation Front. It was much to my delight to see that this museum presented 24 different displays created by Californians to describe their personal experience with this era of change. Below are some of my favorites from the displays shown.
I similarly appreciated the focus this exhibit had on the present and future of California. Many of the issues resonated with me, such as those with the rise of technology and the Mexican-American border. Above are some of my favorite quotes locals made of their stance on the issue including “The border crossed us”, “Ningún ser humano es ilegal” (No human being is illegal), and “The pursuit of happiness no conoce fronteras” (The pursuit of happiness doesn’t know borders).
Lastly, I visited the Exhibit of Art on display. No matter what artistic style or medium you prefer, there is definitely something for everyone to enjoy at the Oakland Museum. Art, history, and science are all intertwined within this area of the museum, and best of all, the art gallery was super interactive, which gave it a friendly atmosphere.
Even though I didn’t get to see it in its entirety, I found the museum to be very educational. If you plan to visit, try going on a day where you have a lot of time, as you’ll find yourself going through the museum slowly since there is a ton of information. Every first Sunday of the month, the price of admission is free, so that in itself should be motivation to go check out this East Bay gem!