Sunday, March 7, 2010

The Kids of “Este es mi México” are Awesome!

As an art teacher who knows how most 7-to 11-year-olds draw and paint, I was impressed by the exhibit, “Este es mi México,” currently at the Mattie Rhodes Art Gallery.  The Mexican Consulate and the Mattie Rhodes Center jointly sponsor the show, which runs through March 26, 2010, here in Kansas City.  These child artists have really got it going!

The exhibit is the result of a contest conducted by the Mexican Ministry of Foreign Affairs.  The contest is annual; this is the 2008 version. 

The contest rules state, “Children between 7 and 11 years old, related to Mexico, from all over the world, may participate . . . Show in your drawing whatever your imagination says about Mexico: what you know about the country, what you remember, what you are proud of as Mexican, why you love Mexico, what you know about its heroes, culture, art, architecture . . . there is a lot to paint about!” 

The result is an international representation of images made by very talented children from places as diverse as Malaysia, Poland, and the US.  Jenny Mendez, Director of the Mattie Rhodes Art Center, kindly allowed me to photograph some of my personal favorites from the show, to share on this blog.  I hope you’ll agree they are wonderful.

First of all—a salute to these kids’ art teachers! 

It takes a lot on the ball to realize there’s a contest that would relate in meaningful ways to your students’ “roots.”  Next, it takes dedication and planning to fill out all the necessary forms and get all the needed permissions.  And finally, there’s often a surprising amount of effort that must be made to inspire kids in your class to actually enter a contest—even when you make it a class assignment! 

I’ll guarantee you that behind every artist in this show, there stands a wonderful teacher, and often a dedicated parent or two, as well!  A great case in point is the wonderful work in the Polish entries.  
These two pieces probably were made by relatives, possibly twin sisters: 10-year-old Ewa and Agnieszka Grodska.

You'll note a technique (oil pastel, I believe) in common with the Grodskas, in the work of Agata Micharowski, 11, which is distinctive enough to make me think they all have the same art teacher.  Nine-year-old Julia Honkisz used crayons or oil pastels with an ink wash over them, then scratched back down to the oil-based layer for the scratchboard design.

These two works from Malaysia also show a commonality of media and color sense that make me think they had the same teacher.  The dancer with the ear of corn is by Alice Roh Gyu Bin, age 8; the Aztec deity and temple are by Tasnim Faiez Syakirah, age 10.

Similar vigor and rhythms of line and color are visible in some of the US entries, such as those of 7-year-old Alvaro Abrego of Oxnard, and Marisa Athena Jaskowski-Fierro, 9, of Salt Lake City.
Like the Malaysian artist Tasnim, 11-year-old Alan Alexis Liao Sierra of Panama reaches back to Mexico's Aztec past for his sophisticated rendering of a temple.

Many pieces referenced cultural standards, such as Dia de los Muertos (Erick Deyden Olague, 8, of Phoenix), Our Lady of Guadalupe (Daniela Gonzalez Herrera, 8, of Brownsville), and an Arbol de la Vida, or Tree of Life (Santiago Edinger Huerta, 9, of Los Angeles).

Festivals or carnivals seemed to be on some young minds.  Strikingly detailed images shown here are from Yuseli Medina Perez, 8, of Oxnard, and Raquel Hernandez, 10, of Sacramento.

And lest we forget that Mexico also is a country with beautiful cities, here are Cinthia Patricia Ramirez Parra, 9, of Phoenix, and Christian Gerardo Villegas Rosiles, 10, of Los Angeles, to remind us!
For me, these were the highlights of the show. I hope you enjoyed them, too!