On the occasion of the Mexican Day of the Dead festival, Working Classroom, a youth programme in Albuquerque, New Mexico, presented Quienes Son Los Animales?: Altars to Lives Sacrificed to Human Greed, an installation commemorating the lives of animals exploited for cosmetics, entertainment, fur coats and food.

Students from several Albuquerque secondary schools, with Working Classroom instructors Bethany Collins and Jorge De la Torre and guest artist Isaac AlaridPease, set up their installations in Visiones Gallery from November 2 – 21, 2007.

From fashion catwalks to fast food drive-ins, university labs to undercover dog fighting pits, millions of animals live and die in pain to satisfy the human quest for entertainment, fashion and cheap food. Working Classroom marks its annual artistic celebration of Dia de Muertos with traditional Mexican food, live music and Quienes Son Los Animales?, a series of contemporary altars dedicated to the dogs, horses, rhinos, elephants, minx, roosters and mice, tortured and killed, not for human need, but for human pleasure.

Our Friend, Mikki Aronoff, to whom we are grateful for much interesting news on current Friendly activities in Albuquerque, talked with some participants. They spent two to three weeks brainstorming a theme, then divided up according to interest; Mikki asked whether students changed how they thought or lived during the process, which was completely student-led.

They struggled with what they wanted to say. Most of them wondered whether they should give up meat, cosmetics and so on. Some were already vegetarian, but most not. They decided that whatever they did, they would do it humanely, ethically and with as much consideration as possible. The majority wanted a happy medium.

Some said that they were 100% against animal testing, eating animals, or wearing animals. The most difficult time for them was watching a video made in a slaughterhouse, lent to them by Animal Protection New Mexico.

Hanging in the slaughterhouse

Hanging in the slaughterhouse

Working Classroom is a street conservatory that identifies and recruits talented young artists and actors from Albuquerque’s historically ignored communities- and provides tuition-free education and training, including college scholarships. Classes are taught by the country’s top artists, playwrights and directors – professionals who welcome new creative opportunities and a prestigious venue for cutting-edge work.


  • www.workingclassroom.org