Puentes, Si! Muros, No!

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“Still Here” woodblock print by Amanda Held.

Puentes, Si! Muros, No! –Bridges, Yes! Walls, No!  is at Kutztown U’s Student Gallery until Feb 9. Five Kutztown art students joined me for a 17-study abroad course in Oaxaca, Mexico. We just got back last week. Woodblock prints they made in Mexico are on display along with prints from prior Mexico study-abroad students and noted Mexican artists. I am proud of this gutsy group of students, all female, and their successful cultural exchange. We worked in Taller Chicharra with Alan Altamirano, the energetic young artist who came to Kutztown last year.

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Saint of the Market by Rebecca Parsons, a sculpture major.

I say gutsy because even in the best of times, college students typically prefer to study abroad in English-speaking countries, think Britain, Ireland, Australia.  I’ve taught 4 courses in Mexico, every year it gets harder to recruit students. Last year, as you may have noticed, Donald Trump began his campaign with demeaning insults to Mexico. That said, these students managed to have a rewarding cultural exchange with warm and hardworking people of the great country of Mexico.

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“Mi Adventura” My Adventure, by Jesse Todero

Jesse Todero, a freshman majoring in Art Ed, was taken by flowers blooming in January. Most days the temperatures got into the 80’s.

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Alan Altamirano and Miranda Pells inking plates in his studio.
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Weaver in Teotitlan del Valle explains natural dying of wool
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“Montañas Azuelas” Blue Mountains by Samantha Kahres

Samantha Kahres fell in love with the mountain landscapes of Oaxaca from the moment we landed. Patt McCloskey made a print, too, based on the balloon sellers in Oaxaca’s zocalo, or center square.

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“Globos Sobre Oaxaca” Balloons over Oaxaca by Patt McCloskey
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“Piña Enojado” Angry Pineapple by Miranda Sells

I am not sure if it was the hot sun and tropical fruits that influenced Miranda Pells. It might have been a motif she saw on the textiles or pottery we studied.

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Campeón by  Kevin McCloskey

My piece, above, is based in part on a pre-Hispanic sculpture I saw and the night we spent ringside at the Lucha Libre.

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Jesse Torero, Amanda Held, Miranda Pells, Rebecca Parsons, Samantha Kahres and me in Oaxaca’s market. We bought toys for tots and got free ringside seats at Lucha Libre.

It is my sincere hope more U.S. college students will have the courage to visit Mexico, Latin America, Asia, Africa and the Middle East. It is a big world. We need to build bridges, not walls.

As always, all images copyright the individual artists. Opinions expressed are mine and not those of Kutztown University.

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