When asked what she misses most about her brother, Seattle artist Patricia Ann Wilson mentions the conversations they had about their creativity. She focused on visual art while Marcus expressed his talent through music.
“We were probably the most close of all of us four siblings because we were most alike,” Wilson said. “I miss that part of him and his laugh.”
Wilson said her brother was living with their mother in Milwaukee, Wisconsin when she passed away in 2014. After selling the home, Marcus had to move out. He became homeless, but Wilson and her siblings didn’t know. Wilson said her brother didn’t handle their mother’s death well and disconnected.
“Then all of sudden he wasn’t talking. He wasn’t reaching out. I couldn’t get a hold of him. Then get a phone call from the coroner’s office,” Wilson said. “It was a brutal murder. He was beat up and set on fire.”
His death is still unsolved and Wilson is honoring him and other homeless people who have passed away during a Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) celebration at El Centro de la Raza in Beacon Hill. She’s calling the altar, or ofrenda, “We Are Not Invisible.” Wilson plans to include a portrait of him in a collage, a sleeping bag, written information on homelessness and traditional images connected to the day such as sugar skulls.
Homelessness is an issue Wilson is moved to confront through her art and goodwill. Prior to the death of her brother in May of 2015, she was already helping homeless people she encountered.
“People walk past people that are homeless and they don’t even make eye contact,” Wilson said. “They don’t consider them as a person. It’s appalling to me.”
Day of the Dead is a celebration of the lives of those who have passed away. The tradition originated in Mexico.
“It’s not a sad day for us. The way we celebrate it is it’s a happy day and we’re excited and we show our appreciation for those that have died and we get to remember them,” Valerie Saucedo said. She’s with El Centro de la Raza. “Because part of the tradition is people aren’t really dead until they’re forgotten.”
Saucedo went on to say that traditionally altars include symbols that represent light, earth, air and fire. Altars also include images and special items for the people being honored.
El Centro de la Raza’s theme for the celebration is “Historias Vigentes, Historias Olvidadas,” which means “The forgotten stories that must not be forgotten.” They are drawing attention to systematic racial inequity.
“Focusing on social justice martyrs, everyone who hasn’t been given an opportunity to vote in the past. Remembering those people that have died for our right to vote,” Saucedo said. “During this election and future elections, we ask people of color to remember that and actually exercise our right to vote.”
Wilson’s altar will be one among two dozen at the event. She wants to bring attention to homelessness and would like people to consider changes she said are needed within our culture — improved mental health care, employment and eliminating economic classism.
WHAT: Día de los Muertos celebration
WHERE: El Centro de la Raza, 2524 16th Ave S., Seattle
WHEN: Nov. 1, 5 – 8:30 p.m.