Inspiring students goal of Latino art exhibit |

Inspiring students goal of Latino art exhibit

Andrew Pridgen
Appeal Staff Writer
BRAD HORN/Nevada Appeal Deborah Stevenson trains docents about the Nevada State Museum's newest exhibit 'Voces Latinas: Works on paper from 1921 to present' on Wednesday. The piece she is talking about is Jose Chavez Morado's 'Mujeres con Cantaros.'

Whether it’s a portrait of peasant life drawn in 1932 by controversial painter and muralist Diego Rivera or the post-modern magical realism of impressionist Elizabeth Gomez’s “Moth Prayer” painted in 2001 – “Voces Latinas: Works on paper from 1921 to present,” is currently wowing art enthusiasts, curious visitors and eager students at the Nevada State Museum.

The exhibit, set to run through mid-November, features 17 works by Latino artists, taken from the Nevada Museum of Art’s permanent collection.

“It’s a traveling exhibit and we were on a waiting list,” said Deborah Stevenson, curator of education. “It was extremely well-timed that we got this exhibit now.”

So much that Stevenson and museum staff decided to coordinate a student art contest to coincide with the exhibit’s showcase.

Local middle and high school students are invited this month to submit original works in pencil, pen and ink, mixed-media or printmaking formats. Some $260 in prize money will be rewarded to the top entries and the top 10 works will be displayed at the museum’s second-floor gallery starting on the Day of the Dead, Nov. 3.

“Students (who enter) don’t have to be Latino,” Stevenson said. “It’s a contest to help students understand we’re a multicultural state and have been from the beginning.

“Art is an important reflection of that.”

Museum employees and volunteers hope students are inspired by the Latino art exhibit and recognize it as a viable form of expression.

“It’s about telling your story through this medium,” Stevenson said. “We know students pick up on that. Latino art takes the problems we face today – living in a high-speed society, but trying to retain traditional values – and puts it in a format that’s striking and open to interpretation.”

Stevenson used Carmen Lomas Garza’s 1997 painting called “Sandia” – depicting a family enjoying a summer’s eve on their porch – as an example.

“You look and at first you see a lot of traditional aspects of what we call American life there,” she said. “But you look a little closer and you see – maybe from the way a man is dressed or an expression on a face – that this family is Latino.”

Museum volunteer docents Wednesday got their first taste of the exhibit during a training session.

“You look at this art and the first thing that strikes you is how heavy it is with symbolism,” said Carson resident and volunteer Ronald Roberts. “I’m excited to learn more about these paintings, what the deeper meanings are.”

Volunteer Rilla Owens said she was partial to the Rivera painting because she’s “partial to portraits.”

She added she was “eager to see what other paintings mean.”

“Students are the best at picking up hidden meaning,” she said. “Sometimes I feel like they ask questions I don’t know the answers to; but that’s what’s great about the art – leaving it up to their interpretation.”

One of the exhibit’s first viewers was El Salvador resident Daisy Paredes, on vacation from her hometown of San Salvador. She inspected the pen and ink of an angry raven titled “Chula” by Luis Jimenez Jr.

“I like the art, it’s very good,” said Paredes. “It makes me feel, um, proud. It gives us something very beautiful to remember.”

• Contact reporter Andrew Pridgen at or 881-1219.

If you go

What: “Voces Latinas: Works on Paper from 1921 to present”

Where: Nevada State Museum, 600 N. Carson St.

When: Exhibit runs through Nov. 18

features: Drawn primarily from the Nevada Museum of Art, the exhibit highlights Latino works from the earliest years of the 20th century to present.


Contest rules

What: Latino History in Nevada Art Contest for middle and high school students

Where: Nevada State Museum

Deadline: Oct. 23

What to submit: The museum is accepting original student works on 81Ú2-by-11 inch paper in pencil, pen and ink, markers, mix media or printmaking.

Prizes: $260 in prizes will be awarded. The top 10 works will be on display at the museum for the Day of the Dead through the end of the Voces Latinas exhibit on Nov. 18.

Information: 687-4810, ext. 237