Students recreate Alfombras

By: Emily Lingfelter ~Staff Writer~

Xavier’s Center for Interfaith Community Engagement will partner with the art department, the Student Organization of Latinos (SOL) and the Art Society to recreate the annual Easter Alfombras, a traditional artistic floral display in Central America.

Catholics in this region typically construct the “oriental carpets” in churches and streets for the Holy Triduum, a several-day procession that celebrates the Biblical events leading to Jesus’ death. The intricate designs, made with colored sawdust, pine needles, flowers and petals, symbolize the devotion to Christ as he entered Jerusalem.

This tradition was formally introduced to the Xavier community about five years ago when students and faculty traveled to Antigua, Guatemala for a medical mission trip. While abroad, Rabbi Abie Ingber, the director of Interfaith Community Engagement, noticed tourism posters depicting the floor designs, but he knew nothing about the celebration.

“As we began to explore what it was, I thought how wonderful it would be to bring a Central American Catholic tradition to our Xavier campus,” Ingber said.

Since then, the university has partnered with various campus organizations to recreate the Central American cultural experience. This year’s project designer, sophomore Hannah Smith, plans to have the pattern stretch to 9 feet by 12 feet dimensions. Its composition will contain dyed woodchips in colors alternating between purple, blue, red, yellow and green.
“We will be fulfilling Rabbi Abie’s vision of going big, but I also designed the Alfombras to have striking visual contrast with juxtaposing complementary colors as well as intricate geometric detail based off of plant-like designs in classic Guatemalan Alfombras,” Smith, president of the Xavier Art Society, said.

The event is scheduled to begin at 10 a.m. on March 31 in the atrium of Gallagher Student Center. All are encouraged to participate in the Alfombras assembly.