CALEXICO – Art students from Calexico High School displayed their work April 27 at the Carmen Durazo Cultural Arts Center for the school’s “Student of the Month” art show. Calexico High art teacher Eddie Shiffer said he chose ten students from his classes to create a theme of four to seven art pieces, giving young artists an opportunity to exhibit within the community.
As residents of Calexico arrived at the exhibition, the Calexico High School Rondalla music group and the rock band “Freedom of Mind” from the school’s ASSETS program entertained attendees.
Shiffer teaches levels Art I and II at the high school and picked ten students from those classes to represent the month of April. The teacher said he looked for students portraying images from outside the school with different points of view. Each painting or drawing displayed also had a brief biography of the artist and the meaning of his/her piece.
“This event is the first time many of my students have exposed their art work to the community,” said Shiffer. “I try to push them to the local art events, because I want the community to see the huge talent each one of them has. They’re all really excited since they took the initiative upon themselves and many of them are looking forward to pursuing an art career.”
“I’ve seen kids who aren’t even my students that have loads of talent,” he said. “I hope this event gives them that outlet to show there’s at least some place in Imperial Valley where they can show their work.”
Stephanie Rodriguez was one of the students presenting, and she is currently a sophomore at Calexico High. She said her inspiration for her paintings was a trip she took to Chiapas, Mexico, where she had the opportunity to see the indigenous towns and the nature of the cities. Rodriguez said she loved the way the Mexican communities raised their children to love and protect the land and environment.
“One of my favorite paintings I did is the one called ‘Familia en Lucha’,” Rodriguez said. “That family I painted gave everything for their community. I love the way they stood up for themselves. I love the culture from Mexico and all its nature.”
“I want people to realize that just because you don’t get a formal education, or you come from a rural city, doesn’t mean you can’t fight and protect nature — which in a way, affects all of us as a society,” she said.
Visitors and students came in groups to support the young artists as they enjoyed the food and admired the vivid paintings and drawings displayed on the walls.
Calexico High School students Carolina Ferraes and Jessica Vallejo said they were amazed at the creativity and talent of their peers.
“I’m amazed at the amount of imagination the students put in — it has an abstract style,” said Vallejo. “This event was a good place for entertainment and a way to explore more of our town’s talent.”
“Many people in the Valley are closed-minded and don’t look more into community events like these,” said Ferraes. “I hope this event encourages others to do their own art and identify with the artists.”
Calexico High School senior Arely Arana Aguilar was another student artist with work displayed. Aguilar said her love for art began as a hobby, as she just drew from time to time. But as she entered Shiffer’s class and learned new techniques, she said it opened a new horizon to the art community and the exploration of her abilities and talent. Aguilar’s art theme focused on her perception of the discrimination and injustice portrayed in the media to groups like the LGBT community.
“The main purpose of my art is to demonstrate that equality is for all and that being who you truly are doesn’t make you less than anyone else,” said Aguilar. “I’m so glad I’m able to show my art to the community and I want people to know that Calexico can have as much capacity as any other part of the world.”