In this particular event, visitors got a rare look inside the tombs of the wealthy and some every day New Yorkers of nearly 200 years ago. The event featured a musical installation entitled “Vigil” by Leigh Davis that engages the power of loss and memory through song.
The work is rooted in this Brooklynite’s membership with the Threshold Choir, a community of women continuing the ancient tradition of bedside singing to the dying. The work was installed in Green-Wood’s Historic Chapel, a sacred space that has provided a place of solace and comfort for those grieving for over a century. Those listening were encouraged to contemplate the complexity of mourning on both a personal and collective level.
For the past five years, Davis has been creating work that encourages community participation and discussion. She offered opportunities for individuals of various ages, cultural, and spiritual backgrounds to come together and share physical and emotional space. At a time when it is not easy to commune or console one another, Vigil provides an occasion to meditate and reflect on the universal experience of death.
During the Open Door event, Catherine Burns, artistic director for the story telling organization, the Moth (best known on National Public Radio), told the story of Mary Rogers, originally from Connecticut but then settled in New York City in 1800’s. Burns said Rogers was a noted beauty who worked in a New York tobacco store, which attracted the custom of many distinguished men, clearly on her account. When her body was found in the Hudson River in 1841, she was assumed to have been the victim of gang violence. However, one witness swore that she was dumped after a failed abortion attempt, and her boyfriend’s suicide-note suggested possible involvement on his part. Rogers’ death remains unexplained.
She inspired Edgar Allan Poe‘s pioneering detective story “The Mystery of Marie Rogêt“. The murder, much publicized by the press at the time, emphasized the ineptitude and corruption of the city’s watchmen system of law enforcement.
In addition to this great program, others are now scheduled for the rest of the month into November. All outdoor programs require visitors to wear masks and maintain six feet while inside historic edifices. Some of the events are free, while other require tickets in advance.
El Dia de Los Muertos (The Day of the Dead) is a three-day holiday that honors the departed through ofrendas (offerings) arranged on altars, music, dancing, and gatherings with family and friends.
A large-scale community altar by artist Scherezade Garcia will be installed in Green-Wood’s Historic Chapel. Visitors are encouraged to bring personal offerings to a community altar, including flowers, photographs, and notes, among other objects.
Inspired by altars found throughout Mexico and the Mexican diaspora, Garcia’s altar will combine her own unique style with this centuries-old celebration of the departed.
On Sunday, November 1, 1:30 to 4:30 p.m., Green-Wood presents “Día de los Muertos Family Celebration“
Visitors will discover the rich history and traditions associated with the Mexican holiday Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead).
The free event will be celebrating Día de los Muertos with family-friendly crafts, Mexican treats, artists, music and a visit to the community altar in Green-Wood’s Historic Chapel designed by artist Scherezade Garcia. The event is open to families with children of all ages. Craft bags will be available on a first come, first serve basis.
The public is encouraged to visit and see the changing colors of the trees for free during the autumn season.