“You see him building layers and layers. He did this over and over again that’s why it’s so chunky, everywhere, all over the piece.”
Eric Castillo, a UH School of Art, Visiting Scholar with the Center for Mexican American Studies, comments on a public art sculpture on campus—“Fiesta Dance” by the late Luis Jimenez. The piece depicts two Latino dancers joyfully engaged in the traditional Mexican hat dance.
“In machismo, it’s the man who has a say in the movement while the woman is the submissive piece, but in this sculpture her hands are the ones that are free,” Castillo observes. “He’s compacted, while she has more movements, more liberty than he does.”
The CMAS Visiting Scholar program began in 1986, recruiting experts to produce new research on the Latino culture and experience. Castillo, a Jimenez scholar, is interested in how visual images shape identity, create community and “artivism.”
“Jimenez made beautiful the working class and iconized the working class,” he said “To me, that’s what’s beautiful and important about his work.”
Artivism is art plus activism and brings to the forefront conversations that to date we may not have heard.
“I’m interested in how we can use visual images and recreate iconography for community mobilization, for youth empowerment for advocacy,” he said.
Visiting Scholars are part of what’s happening at the University of Houston.