By: Solange M. González
Baruch Vergara, Lorraine Rodríguez and Andrea Mendez presented a press conference in Dr. Carlos E. Chardón Building of the University of Puerto Rico at Mayagüez Campus (UPRM) about the art scenery in Mayagüez and the important of the plastic arts and dance in society.
Professor Vergara attended the forum on behalf of the plastic arts. The professor is responsible for teaching engraving and plastic arts in UPRM, where he also coordinates the university gallery and its art exhibitions.
Lorraine Rodríguez and Amanda Méndez represented professional and student dance. Lorraine Rodríguez came on behalf of Elmer Perez from Ballet Escenario in Mayagüez. Rodríguez is a master student of microbiology who is also a professional dancer and teacher of the aforementioned company. Andrea Méndez is in her third year of chemistry at UPRM. She is an official dancer of the UPRM Dance Team and since childhood has trained in the discipline of dance.
Professor Vergara discussed various issues relating to the importance of art in our society. “People think that art is an inferior study. This has a totally platonic tradition in the sense that everything that has to do with sensitivity is frowned upon and appears that knowledge only comes from the brain and intelligence, thought or reason.” Professor Vergara expressed the underestimations of society towards the arts. At the same time he makes the people reflects about the importance of arts for the world and the good behavior of the community. The arts give us another ways to seen the things and problems solutions among other different point of view.
Professor Vergara also commented on the importance of the gallery to the university and the difference between it and other galleries. He shared the criteria must have each artist to be exhibited at the gallery. The artist needs to contact with the art program of the UPRM and express his/her interest to participate in the gallery, presents his/he curriculum vitae and a portfolio with his/her woks. He mentioned the limitations of the UPRM gallery since it depends on the volunteerism of students to stay open. Moreover he also mentioned that the arts galleries on the west side, as is Western Gallery, are losing their swing because they are having more losses than gains.
Art also can be represented by the dance and Ballet Escenario has a great artistic and cultural importance in the Mayagüez area. It celebrated its 10th years anniversary on October 10, 2014 with an artistic role in Yagüez Theatre. Rodríguez spoke about the methods and techniques that use the company to prepare its dancers. When they have a presentation, they practice so much hours to obtain the perfection they want. She mentioned to the public that the company has won different Dance Congress such as the Salsa Congresst and the dancers, the ones that the company has prepared, have won many important dance competitions in Puerto Rico and other continents. She touches on the issue that Ballet Escenario help people from different social classes to take their classes with different kind of grant.
Rodríguez also emphasized the importance of combining both: art and studies. “Not only are good the ones who are able to graduate in Mechanical Engineering or Computer Engineering but also are real good we, the ones that are able to express our feelings through art, through a motion, by the way I make you cry with the movement of my finger or the way I look you when I’m moving my body.” In our society the careers non related to science are disparagements. According to Rodríguez, art and science studies must go hand by hand. She says that no matter how much intelligent do you have if you do not know how to expresses the emotions. The people need to learn how to valuate their culture and the things that defined their as individuals. We must not despise the different passions of people because all individuals express themselves and learn in different ways.
According to Méndez, it is difficult to combine her studies with dancing. However, dance is to her the escape to relaxation from the stress of life. “Everyone can do it but it is hard. Dancing won’t help me get to med school, but I use it as a stress relieve. It is important that students have that stress relieve, because many students do very bad things for stress relieve but you should do something beautiful with you free time.” Student life is stressful and exhausting, b we are human and we need to find different distractions and have a balance between different activities. Many young found distraction in alcohol, drugs and other vices; instead Méndez proposes a better alternative: the arts.
All the panelists brought up different views about what is art; however, they all conclude than art is an important cultural, intellectual and emotional instrument. Through art we can open doors than mere intelligence or reason alone does not allow us to open.