Educating Through Art

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guaracibo1In reading Reynaldo’s bio, it is obvious that he is an artist of and for our community. He has received various awards and recognition both for his beautiful works of art and for the time he allocates to teaching children about art, murals, and Puerto Rican culture.

While speaking to Reynaldo I came to the realization that all that happens to us is for a reason. Every circumstance brings meaning that leads to a path of bigger and better things. Here’s what he told me:

M: ¿Cuéntame cómo fue que empezastes en tu carrera de artista?

How did your career as a painter begin?

R: Cuando llegue aquí de Puerto Rico, yo sabía dibujar un poquito, pero no mucho. En primer lugar tengo que contarte; mi primer hijo nació con una desabilidad de aprendimiento. Un día, en camino al hospital con mi hijo, pare frente al Centro Cultural Ruiz Belvis en la Milwaukee y Damen (en ese tiempo [en Chicago].) En ese entonces yo me había quedado sin trabajo; pare y le pregunté a la directora si podía dejar unas piezas de arte con ella para vender, y me dijo que sí… Desde ese momento surgió una oportunidad. El artista previo se había ido y me dieron a mi el proyecto de pintar murales por ese verano. Conste, que yo no sabía pintar murales. Yo antes de eso solamente pintaba en papel con lápices de color. Fíjate, los mismos estudiantes del centro me llevaron a mí a una tienda de suplidos de arte y me enseñaron a mí, lo que es un canvas, pinturas, etc y por ellos fue que yo fui aprendiendo a usar canvas y pinturas.

When I arrived in Chicago from Puerto Rico, I knew how

to draw, a little – not much though. First, I have to share with you; my first son was born with an LD (learning disability.) One day, on my way to a medical appointment, I stopped at Centro Cultural Ruiz Belvis which was at that time, located on Milwaukee and Damen [in Chicago]. During this time I was jobless so I decide to stop there and ask if I could leave a few pieces of artwork to sell. The director agreed. From that moment on an opportunity became available because their artist had left and they offered me the summer project to paint murals. Notwithstanding the fact that I had never painted on canvas or with paints. I only knew how to paint on paper with color pencils. Ironically enough the students of the center took me to an art store and introduced me to canvas and paints, etc and with their help is how I began to learn to paint.

tobacoM: Tu trabajo artístico es basado en la cultura puertorriqueña. ¿Porqué es tan importante para tí este tipo de subjecto?

Your work is based on Puerto Rican culture, why is this subject so important to you?

R: En Puerto Rico uno vive esa cultura diariamente, y pues uno no se da ni cuenta lo que vive. Lo que comes y nuestras costumbres. ¿Verdad? Cuando uno viene a los Estados Unidos y uno ve otras culturas otra gente otras costumbres uno se

da de cuenta de lo suyo. En un momento de orgullo en mi cultura;

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me dije: ‘No, yo voy a adecuar a la gente sobre mi cultura a través del arte.’

When one comes here from Puerto Rico, once here, you realize the abundance of culture within which you lived in. What we eat, our customs, you know? I realized how proud I am of my culture and decided that I would educate the public of my culture through art.

M: Cuéntame sobre tu trabajo de educación con menores.

Tell me about your educational work with children.

R: Yo voy a diferentes escuelas y enseñó sobre murales, pinturas y cultura.

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I visit different Chicago public schools and teach about art and murals and culture.

M: ¿Que legado artístico quieres dejar?

What artistic legacy do you wish to leave behind?

R: Que aunque pobre y de simples principios, sólo pude llevar el arte, ayudar a niños obtener becas y que aunque se me cerraron muchas puertas persevere como artista.

That although I grew up poor with modest means, alone I was able to deliver my art, help children along the way obtain scholarships and although many doors were closed to me, I persevered in my goals as an artist.

M: ¿Qué cambios deben haber entre el centro artístico puertorriqueño?

What changes should their be within the core of Puerto Rican artists?

R: Cambios… bastantes. Se necesita más apoyo. Se necesita más comunidad. Se necesita que Latinos en posiciones poderosas apoyen el arte y la educación cultural. Se necesita más unión entre nuestras comunidades en general para poder progresar.

Changes…. lots. We need more support. We need more community. We need for Latinos in positions of power to support the arts and cultural education. We need union within our communities in general so that we can progress.

Check out his work here.Congero

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Madeline Rodríguez

Madeline “Maddy” Rodríguez is a Boricua who has lived in Chicago for a very long time. She was born in the deep woods of Adjuntas, Puerto Rico, where her grandparents made a living off the coffee farm they owned. Her father is a well-known Cuatro Player and Jíbaro Music Singer and her mother, a blue collar worker. Madeline attended high school and business school in the City of Chicago. She has worked as a paralegal for over 15 years and has been self-employed as a freelance-paralegal for the last three years. She has written and published interviews of musicians, producers, actors, comedians, directors, playwrights and individuals who are pillars of success among the Latino community as well as short articles about life events. She is a very deeply rooted modern-day Jíbara del Campo who prefers her café prieto y colao. 

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  1 comment for “Educating Through Art

  1. August 26, 2013 at 12:39 am

    Estoy feliz de encontrar webs donde ver informacion tan necesaria como esta. Gracias por poner este articulo.

    Saludos

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