Visiting artists display work in Feldman-Horn Gallery


Ella Yadegar, Assistant Features Editor

The Upper School Visual Arts Department hosted an opening reception for the year’s first visiting artist series in Feldman-Horn Gallery on Sep. 16. The exhibition displays work from four artists at Slanguage Studio, a Los Angeles-based public art space, and will remain open until Nov. 4.

The artwork, collectively titled “Use What You Have…Do Your Best…” features photographs, drawings and paintings that explore Mexican-American culture, identity and personal struggles.

Artist Karla Diaz, one of the scholars chosen to display work, said her grandparents’ story of their immigration to America inspired her to create “Abuela Naranjas,” an embroidery-on-canvas installation.

“My grandmother and my grandfather came here in the 1940s and 50s,” Diaz said. “There was an exchange program here, a labor program where many Mexicans were brought to do farmwork in California. They worked in the orange orchards, and so for me, it was really important to pay tribute to that history of my grandmother and my grandfather, but also who they are and what they did.”

Diaz said the piece was especially meaningful for her because it was the first piece of artwork she completed after suffering a stroke in 2017.

“It was the first time that I could really feel like I could paint or draw something,” Diaz said. “A stroke can impact people differently, whether physically [or in] memory, speech and things like walking. One of the things that was affected was my dexterity with my hand. A friend told me that I should use embroidery on this piece. My hand would really shake when I would try to hold a pen, a pencil or a brush, and the circular movement of embroidery really helped.”

Another installation in the exhibit includes a series of drawings by artist Mario Ybarra Jr., titled the “Beyond Our Dreams Series.” Ybarra said his childhood memories served as the primary source of inspiration for the illustrations.

“I was letting myself go into my imagination with these different cultural icons,” Ybarra said. “As a kid, I used to draw graffiti, but I hadn’t allowed myself to draw with markers. I was just really trying to pull from pop culture and a kind of juvenile spirit because when you get older, people try to kill that.”

Andrea Colmenares-Cifuentes ’24 said her favorite part of the exhibit was hearing the personal backstories each artist had for their works.

“Once I learned about the purpose and experiences that contributed to the meaning behind each piece, I gained a deeper and more emotional understanding of the art, which made me appreciate all of the detail and effort put into it even more,” Colmenares-Cifuentes said. “I am extremely glad that I got the opportunity to see artwork made by such talented Latin American artists. I felt comforted seeing myself and my community represented in the pieces exhibited and hope to see more galleries that feature a diverse range of brilliant artists like them.”