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symposium winner
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Top photo (from left): Arturo Almeida, Gina Mendez, Martha Fasci, Paul Rutledge
(East Central High School principal), East Central student John Ward (first place prize
winner), East Central art teacher Mary Hierholzer, East Central librarian Lisa Charette
and Abraham Dominguez. Second row: student Lauren Martinez (second place
winner, Brackenridge High School) and student Paul Rivera (third place winner,
Burbank High School).

Art symposium expands horizons for young students

By James Benavides
Public Affairs Specialist

(Feb. 28, 2007)--After UTSA's successful Chicano/a Art Symposium at the Downtown Campus in late January, university officials plan to expand the event in 2008. The symposium's planning committee projected 300 high school participants for the inaugural event, but nearly 400 attended.

Terry Ybanez, an art instructor from Brackenridge High School, accompanied her class to the event, and noted that just visiting the campus was eye opening for the students. She described the symposium as "the best gift that UTSA has ever given to the community."

The symposium focused on introducing the students to professional Chicano/a artists and Chicano/a cultural influences on art. Local artists Rolando Briseno, Luis Guerrero, Joe Lopez and Luis Valderas took turns sharing their knowledge and experience with the students. Next year, coordinators aim to increase the level of interaction between the artists and students with art workshops.

Jacinto Quirarte, UTSA professor emeritus of art and art history, welcomed the students to the symposium and presented a perspective on the development of Chicano/a art through the '70s and '80s. "Chicano artists operate in two worlds -- a bicultural, bilingual world that is not totally Mexican or American, but something unique," said Quirarte. "That is why I titled my talk after one of the first things I heard when I came to Texas in 1954: 'No parquee alli porque viene un cop y le da un teecket.'"

"We saw so many powerful works of art from a young audience," said Arturo Almeida, symposium curator and UTSA art specialist. "Students at such a young age are learning to understand, appreciate and share their culture through art. We want to teach these students that what they do has value. Having an established artist take the time to teach a class or compliment a student's work validates the importance of such accomplishments."

The event included an art contest for the high school students judged by a panel of professional artists and art professors. Each of the top three artists received a set of four Chicano/a art books. Top honoree John Ward of East Central High School, produced a work that modernizes an ancient Aztec statue. Using a pen, Ward drew the ancient statue in one sitting, then updated the piece by drawing portions of the statue around the original, coloring them vividly with map pencils. The high school senior never expected his hobby could earn such recognition.

"Coming to an educational institution like UTSA to display artwork was a momentous and emotional experience for our local artists, as much as it was for the students," said Martha Fasci, UTSA assistant vice president for community services. "The Chicano artists have earned the respect they are due, even in a hometown already rich in Chicano culture, and the students now realize that their heritage is valuable."

Symposium planning committee members are Almeida, Fasci, Abraham Dominguez, project director of the UTSA Academy for Teacher Excellence, and Gina Mendez, UTSA director of community relations, Downtown Campus.

For more information on the Chicano/a Art Symposium, contact Arturo Almeida at (210) 458-4983.

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