By: Paulina T. Jiménez
Last October students from the University of Puerto Rico at Mayagüez organized a press conference in the university about arts and entertainment to educate students about the local arts scenery in Mayagüez.
The purpose of the conference was to expose our local arts in Mayagüez and learn from the panelists perspectives. Panelists included: Baruch Vergara, a professor at UPRM, and the director Campus Gallery; Andrea Méndez, an undergraduate chemical student in UPRM and a ballet dancer, and, Loraine Rodríguez, Rodríguez, a professional dancer since 2002 and intermediate and advanced salsa instructor in Ballet Escenario since 2003, representing Elmer Pérez from Ballet Escenario.
Panelists opened the forum discussing the meaning of art.
For Vergara “art is our communication. Everything about sensibility is wrong defined; the important thing is to discover and understand is that we learn better with our senses. Art is very valuable for us because it can give you an amount of solutions for our problems as a society with also the creativity and alternative to generate different solutions for our problems.” Rodriguez focused on performance, to note that it “can make a person feel different sensations just appreciating movement.” For Andrea, “Not even science can explain what art can make us feel because, art is a global language.”
Students in the University of Puerto Rico at Mayagüez are busy, hardworking, and intellectual people. As busy students we need a stress relief and can use some free time to appreciate art to make us feel good and continue with our day. It’s all about priorities and art could help students through this. Some people value art but some others lack interest in this scenery and do not support it as much as others. This has been affecting our culture because we are the future and we are not exploring and sharing our culture to the fullest.
Art students in Mayagüez are trying to have the best education, but here they lack art events, opportunities, money, and materials to learn and appreciate it. The purpose of Vergara’s classes is to teach his students complex techniques and to have accuracy, but most importantly, he wants to teach his students to feel what art is.
Performing arts motivate students to bring their families and friends, because this is a student’s city with a lot of talented people that needs to be seen. If people are interested in ballet, Ballet Escenario has different strategies to help you receive the classes if you don’t have the resources already. Now you don’t have an excuse for not pursuing your dancing dream.
How about the artistic identity as a community? Baruch commented that “visual arts is a severe problem, lack of identity, a lot of visual offers of TV, technology and interest only on what’s popular and this is not helping us. We don’t have appreciation on what’s local, Puerto Rican art. We don’t have accessibility about Latin art either, everything they sell is only American.” Identity is held by art and culture; we don’t need to understand it to appreciate it.
Art can be the change to our multiple problems. One particular problem for art to become fantastic in Mayaguez is that the UPRM students as we all know, are always busy and short of money. But the important thing is that the people in charge of these events and music and arts festivals like the Presencias Festival, is that they are taking this problem into consideration because they want to see the students participate and express themselves with this different circumstances. Mayagüez will grow culturally if everyone learns about art and participates in these local performances and galleries.