Art from local Latinos fills BSU’s Fine Arts Gallery ahead of Hispanic Heritage Month

By Rachel Spacek of the Idaho Press

Aug 28, 2019

Ileana and Antonio at exhibit
Ileana Cordova and Antonia Tamayo

BOISE — A small space in the Student Union Fine Arts Gallery at Boise State University is dedicated completely to local Latino art in an exhibit titled “We Carry Inside Ourselves.”

The display kicks off September, which coincides with Hispanic Heritage Month, which is celebrated Sept. 15 to Oct. 15. It will be open for public viewing till Oct. 6.

“If you look around at all of this, our culture is so important to us so we all have it in our work,” said Alma Rose Gomez, an artist who has paintings in the exhibition.

The Fine Arts Gallery on the second floor of the student union is filled with water color paintings, pencil drawings, sculptures and photography by other local Latinos. Upon walking through the exhibit, attendees seemed drawn to the distinct art of Lupita Garcia.

Garcia’s art is inspired by Lotería cards, the cards used to play a Mexican card game, similar to American Bingo.

In Lotería, there is an announcer who has a deck of cards with different images, including El Corazón (the heart), La Luna (the moon), La Rosa (the rose) and others. The announcer usually gives a phrase or clue for each image, and players mark the corresponding spot on their tablas, or game boards that have pictures from the cards. The first player to fill their board in the agreed upon way, wins after shouting “Lotería!”

Garcia, also known as Bad Apple, works at Black and Gray Studios, a tattoo shop in Nampa. She said she has been drawing since she can remember.

“I feel like I am lucky — not everybody gets to start drawing right when they are born and a lot of people stop doing art,” Garcia said. “I just kept going, I just never stopped.”

Garcia’s artwork at the exhibit include “Mi Dulce Corazón,” that resembles the corazón, the heart, on the Lotería cards, altered to look like a strawberry.

Garcia said she receives lots of inspiration from Lotería cards; she remembers playing with the cards as a young girl.

Gomez grew up in Texas and began painting in high school. She said she always remembers painting people she knew who were Latino, but didn’t start consciously thinking about the role her culture played in her art until she moved to Idaho.

“I was a Latina here in Idaho, and I didn’t know any other Latinos,” Gomez said.

She enrolled at BSU a year later and started exploring themes from her heritage to include in her art.

“I was so homesick for Texas and my culture,” she said. “And so I made it a point that everything I was going to paint, it was going to reflect my culture.”

Organizing the exhibit was a group effort between Ileana Cordova, Fonda Portales and Alicia Garza.

Cordova, admissions counselor for BSU’s High School Equivalency Program, came up with the idea for an exhibit, said Garza. Portales, university art curator and collections manager, confirmed there was space in the Student Union gallery space.

The exhibit’s title, “We Carry Inside Ourselves,” was inspired by a quote by Graciela Iturbide, a famous Mexican photographer. She said, “Wherever we go, we want to find the theme that we carry inside ourselves.”

The exhibit opened Tuesday and runs through Oct. 6. Gallery hours are BSU Student Union Hours, 7 a.m. to 10 p.m.

“We want to showcase our culture and showcase our art and self-expression,” Garza said. She teaches Latin American literature and Mexican-American literature and culture at BSU.

She said most of the artwork is done by local Latino artists, and a few photographs are from a Colorado artist.

“There is a lot of interesting, amazing work,” Garza said. “I am really proud of it because it shows a lot of my favorite artists, people I have known for a long time.”

Rachel Spacek is the Latino Affairs reporter for the Idaho Press. You can reach her at rspacek@idahopress.com. Follow her on twitter @RachelSpacek. Article can be found at this link.