Last week was bursting at the seams with activity. Not only was it the week following the Las Artes de Mexico opening, but it was also an Artist in Residence week. This translated into over 880 schoolchildren and adults visiting the Museum during four school days, three evening programs, and three weekend programs. Wow! is right.
These weeks, crazy as they are, are impressively powerful. Powerful because nothing is cooler than seeing a professional working artist kneeling beside kindergarteners guiding them in their artwork creation or engaging a group of high school students with an artform they’ve never tried before.
Juan Flores, an extremely talented Mexican-American artist, introduced students to the traditional folk arts of Mexico. Each day introduced a new medium: Tuesday – Papel Picado (paper cuts), Wednesday – Los Baleros (wooden toys), Thursday – Las Mascaras (masks), and Friday – Clay Figurines.
Because he is more comfortable speaking in Spanish than in English, we worked with fabulous volunteer interpreters (a shout out to Nancy, Eduardo, Janet, Carol, Juan, and NTC’s international students for all your help this week!).
The more than 500 student artworks created during the week are on view through April 11 (a shout out to my colleagues for installing it during a two-hour window prior to Friday evening’s family night).
We welcomed more than 150 guests that evening to view Las Artes de Mexico, enjoy refreshments, take in the student exhibition, meet Juan, and try out some traditional Mexican folk arts themselves. Plus, curator of education Jayna Hintz worked with Ready to Read to secure bilingual and Spanish children’s books for every family attending.
“Vibrant” sums up the week beautifully. As I write this overview of the week, two stories come to mind, both demonstrating the powerful impact these Artist in Residence weeks have.
When Franklin Elementary fourth-grade students visited on Thursday, we didn’t have interpreters. Two bilingual students were asked to translate for Juan at the front of the studio. As Juan pointed to one and then the other to interpret different sentences, these students beamed with pride. It was awesome to see. On Friday, Thomas Jefferson Elementary came with their Spanish-speaking Newcomer students. After working with Juan one student walked up to him and said, “You make me proud to be Mexican.”
Need I say more?