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Main Street Gallery holds nichos workshop
Tim Garton Jr. decorates a matchbox nicho Wednesday during a Dia De Los Muertos workshop at the Main Street Gallery. Staff photo by Taylor Balkom

Daily News Staff Writer

Complete with chips and salsa, Latin music and glitter glue, a group of people gathered at the Main Street Gallery on Wednesday to craft matchbox nichos as a part of El Dia De Los Muertos exhibit.

A nicho, otherwise known as a tiny altar, is a form of a mixed-media collage in a small box that is usually displayed in homes. Instead of creating a nicho, the group scaled their projects down and compiled small mementos in a matchbox.

“In Mexico, you see them (nichos) a lot at the markets,” said Cameo McRoberts, Ketchikan Area Arts and Humanities Council program director. “They’ll have little themes, like a kitchen or a dentist’s office, or a mariachi band playing or something.

“Usually people will buy them for friends,” she added. “If you’re going to get your wisdom teeth taken out, someone might buy you a dentist nicho to put in your house so you have a good experience at the dentist.”

McRoberts said a nicho is basically a collection of knick knacks, like a spot someone has in their home filled with rocks they collect every time they go to the beach. She said although a nicho is a small altar and has a religious significance to it, it’s simply a collection of small items that are important to someone.

Even though a part of El Dia De Los Muertos exhibit, the matchbox nichos made didn’t have to be themed as such. McRoberts said one person made a piece that resembled the Earth, with several objects around it to resemble what people go through in their lives.

“We had a couple of people that had never come to anything at the gallery before and they had just seen it on Facebook and decided to come check it out. We played La Santa Cecilia, and everybody kind of agreed that they were super awesome, just like I said,” McRoberts laughed.

La Santa Cecilia is a Mexican-American band from Los Angeles that is performing in Ketchikan on Nov. 8 as a part of the Torch Night Concert Series.

As El Dia De Los Muertos exhibit comes to a close, Decolonizing Alaska, a touring exhibit, will be opening at the Main Street Gallery on Nov. 3. The gallery opening will be held from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. on Nov. 3 at 330 Main St.