By: Paola B. Rodríguez Borrés
Passion and love for dance and plastic arts played as the protagonists of a press conference, a professorand two recognized art students discussed the potential of art in western Puerto Rico.
At the conference named Local Arts Scenery held in Chardón Building of the University of Puerto Rico at Mayagüez (UPRM) Lorainne Rodríguez, an UPRM graduate student, expressed that apart from the cultural decadence, art is not going to become extinct in Puerto Rico because they’re passionate artists that are willing to embrace and share their knowledge. When it comes to local arts the extinction is mentioned because “it is an open secret that there is fraud in the art market, speculation and abuse of artists.”
As a college student and member of the UPRM dance team Andrea Méndez agreed “art gives us the chance in ways math or science cannot. Art is a global language, it is not only poetry but dance or paint, among others.”
On the other hand, a engraving professor at UPRM, Baruch Vergara explained how depreciated art has become in the western area, so much that the only gallery that is known it’s declining because people do not support the expositions.
Vergara explained how the gallery located at UPRM hasn’t been used to its full potential the last couple
of years. Since it was commissioned to him, he tried to look for solutions in order to promote the gallery: creating a webpage, trying to make expositions with other universities, among other initiatives. He also encourages students to keep the gallery open beyond the day of an art exposition inauguration.
Méndez contended “Our generation values art, but not as much as they should”. Also, she stated that to promote college student attendance to art events is essential to keep entrance fees low.
Moreover, Lorainne explained how Ballet Escenario, a famous dance academy is the west, has contributed to the arts scenery in Mayagüez by offering a job to people interested in learning how to dance but who cannot afford it. This way they can earn the lessons by teaching others what they already know; that was how she started working with them as a salsa teacher.
In terms of the culture, Vergara highlighted that the visual arts competes with many technological or cultural factors. He also explained that students despise their Puerto Rican tradition which is field with many artistic inheritance. He continued to emphasize how Puerto Rican engraving and serigraphy is highly distinguished across the globe but still adolescents don’t take pride on that but for other irrelevant aspects to the country’s culture.
“Whenever they (people) say ‘culture’, they tell you foods and arts, they don’t say ‘culture’: science (…)we are not going to form as individuals only using technology, science and engineering, we form (ourselves) as individuals also using art” Andrea added.
On the other hand, Lorainne said that although Ballet Escenario was created with a classical music focus, the most accepted type of dance in the west is salsa.
This apparent art decadence is trying to be fixed creating different iniciatives like “a workshop where anyone can learn drawing, watercolor, design or architectural design portfolio, watch documentaries and study art books” at Mayagüez, as expressed in Mayagüez Sabe A Mango, a local news blog.
Andrea and Lorainne that despite the fact that they study chemistry and microbiology, they appreciate the beauty of art, how it can make you release stress and how it is equally important to science because “it makes the society work as a whole including the diversity that we all have,” as Lorainne elaborated.
The public that attended the press conference commented how art should not be judged or rejected, but embraced as a symbol of how culturally rich our society is. They also emphasized how art is a very important component of a person’s development and perspective.