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La Comunidad

La Comunidad | Sept 3 - Nov 21, 2021

Our History,
Andy Valdivia

Community is bigger than geography or family, it’s about a shared experience – the shared experience of La Comunidad (The Community).

Visit the gallery to experience murals, paintings, sculpture, dance, music and costumes from Topeka Latino artists. By mixing cultural traditions with contemporary stories, this group of artists showcases the depth of talent and vision in the community.

La comunidad es más grande que la geografía o la familia, es acerca de compartir experiencias—la experiencia compartida de La Comunidad.

Desde las artes visuales a las artes escénicas, murales, pinturas, esculturas, danza, música, disfraces y coches modificados (lowrider cars), los artistas latinos en Topeka están creciendo. Mezclando tradiciones con historias contemporáneas, este grupo de artistas muestra talento y una vision profunda de la comunidad.

Featured Artists | Artista destacado

Ballet Folklorico de Topeka

Costumes from Ballet Folklorico de Topeka, a Mexican Folkloric Dance Company, will be displayed in the exhibit. The troupe was established in 1976 under the direction of Ediberto Gonzalez Sr. Ballet Folklorico de Topeka practices year-round and performs locally, statewide and out-of-state. The troupe is open to anyone 4 years old and older.

Michael Chavez

Painting by Michael Chavez

In Transit,
Michael Chavez

"The prevalence of migration is worldwide. Reasons include social, religious, ethnic, political and natural disasters. The barren landscape and tumultuous clouds represent the arduous journey yet offer enough glimpses of promise to continue. Contrastingly, the fence partially in front and partially behind the girl presents the greater challenges of assimilation and acceptance for both migrants and natives. The sign translates 'Abandon hope all ye who enter,' the inscription over the entrance to Hell, taken from Dante Alighieri's 'Divine Comedy.'"

Jamie Colon

"Growing up as a member of a strong Mexican-American community here in Oakland, traditional music and dance were always part of the experience. When I was younger my parents enrolled me and my sister in a dance group. Being at practice I was always enthralled with the older kids, the complexity of their dances and costumes. The bright swirls of colors, the music their enthusiasm even without audience. The images of them lighting up the Fiesta stage will always be what I remember most."

Mario GarciaMario Garcia

"Growing up, I was exposed daily to Mexican culture by my immigrant parents. It wasn’t until I moved away to get an education that I realized I took my upbringing for granted. Working on these pieces allowed me to fill the gap I experienced after leaving home. This awareness has inspired me to share with my viewers an experience of my life that I am proud to be a part of. With my use of colors and detail, I aim to emphasize the presence of Mexican traditions and culture."

Osbaldo Gonzalez

"To me my heritage are the roots that reach deep through thousands of years of history, like layers of sediment stacked on top of each other. My family trace their lineage to the Tének and Xi’ui people of the Huasteca region and it is from here where I draw much of the inspiration for my work. I employ coil handbuilding techniques passed down by generations while also trying to revitalize some of the styles and patterns lost after the Spanish conquest of the Huasteca. Through this I hope to keep the roots that connect the ancient and modern Tének and Xi’ui alive and strong."

Huascar MedinaHuascar Medina

Huascar Medina is the 2019-2021 Poet Laureate of Kansas. He currently works as a freelance copywriter and as the Literary Editor for seveneightfive magazine publishing stories that spotlight literary and artistic events in northeast Kansas. Medina's poems can be found in his collections How to Hang the Moon and Un Mango Grows in Kansas. He is the winner of ARTSConnect’s 2018 Arty Award for Literary Art.

Vivian Moser

Vivian Moser"A woman in my 40s I now feel more comfortable in my own skin. I have found that my preferred art is craft and I know craft can be art. Traditional arts and crafts provide communities with narrative storytelling, coping skills, wellness through flow states, community building, traditional healing practices, and highlights the importance of traditional knowledge and wisdom."

Stephanie Munoz-O'Neil

Stephanie Munoz-O'Neil"I grew up with this imagery flanking my village in the Oakland area of Topeka, Kansas. To the immediate west were the Santa Fe workshops and as you cross the river road there was the mighty Kaw bending toward us and then away to the northeast. I remember as a child gazing out my classroom window and studying all the gingerbready nooks and crannies of the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe buildings. Little did I know at the time that these architectural intricacies would nestle within my psyche and flare up continually to feed me again and again."

Joey RochaJoey Rocha

Joey Rocha's work focuses on family and religion. His Kansas roots play strongly into the narratives of his paintings. Rocha's evolution as a painter can be seen in the work on display in this exhibit. His work shows the benefits and burdens of working the land in Kansas.

Luke Rocha

Luke Rocha is a self-taught artist who creates sculptures, installations, publications and collages from a wide range of found materials and media. He is particularly interested in the lesser-known or underappreciated expressions and artifacts of specific cultures and subcultures. Rocha is a consummate collector who seeks to re-focus attention on these artifacts while bringing them into new dialogue with one another. The materials he used to create his art carry a history along with a Left-Field Americana sensibility. Multi-discipline is the best way to describe his practice as he also incorporates music, film and photography.

Andy ValdiviaAndy Valdivia

Valdivia is a graduate of Hayden High School, Washburn University (BFA), and Kansas State University (MA). He worked in the teaching field for more than 30 years and is now retired. Valdivia taught art to various age groups from 1st graders to college students. He has painted five murals for Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish all depicting the heritage between Mexico and this community in Topeka, Kansas. The time frame covers from Aztec times to today. Four are in the Marla Cuevas-Balandran Activity Center and one is in Our Lady of Guadalupe Church. Valdivia is also one of the artists who painted the Brown vs Board Mural Project “Legacy & Vision” as well as the Topeka Police Department’s mural “Common Ground.” In 2019 he was commissioned to paint the mural located in the Topeka 501 Professional Building (the old Bishop Elementary School).

Educational Resources

Community members help you learn more about various topics related to Hispanic heritage and the art exhibit La Comunidad through videos and art projects. These resources are great for individuals, teachers and students.

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