Oaxaca Institute: Opening Reflections

Paridad’s Oaxaca Institute is in full swing! Yesterday we visited the pre-Columbian archaeological site of Monte Alban. Our tour guides took us on dynamic tours where we learned about the history of Oaxaca and its indigenous cultures. In the afternoon, we visited the studio of Doña Angélica Vásquez Cruz, a world-renowned artist based in Oaxaca. She gave us a sculpting demonstration while telling us the riveting story of her journey as an artist and woman in Mexico.

Our participants we very moved by the day’s events. Their powerful reflections paint the picture of our busy and inspirational day!

“Today I felt that I was exposed to the Oaxacan art, culture, and history. That exposure has broadened my understanding of the people of Oaxaca, their background, and perhaps some of their experiences. I have learned about legends of Oaxaca as well as their ancient ruins. This will continue to help me grow as a person and educator, creating more understanding of experiences that my students may have had, or what their families take pride in. It broadens my awareness and focuses the lens on how we can all connect to one another, value our experiences and traditions, and grow/learn from each other.” - Alexie Downey

“Me llena el alma estar alrededor de tantas personas que aprecian las Americas.” - Carlos Perez

Photo by Alexie Downey

“I have a keen awareness about culture and how it shapes us. I use culture to help me and others really find--in deep ways--who they are and how they connect to others. I loved the morning activity because it helped define for me why I am here and what I hope to take back home with me. Erik was amazing with his information and tour. He was patient with us as we scaled the different areas. But I was really moved listening to the mermaid story and the connections to culture and how poverty, women's rights, family, stories, and location all helped to define the art and the artist.” - Debra Bobinsky

“I really enjoyed listening to Angélica speak today. My main take away from listening to her speak is that every culture has its beauty as well as its challenges and that culture is complex. I don't think that you can begin to understand culture without looking at it from multiple vantage points.” - Sarah Gistenson

Photo by Olivia Mulcahy

“Today was amazing. I was especially inspired by the artist, Angelica Delfina Vazquez Cruz. Her story was powerfully feminist--in the best sense about empowering women--and full of cultural pride. She was modeling for us how to create and tell a story at the same time AND how to teach using both art and stories. I felt the authenticity of her words and how they were based on lived experience. She was someone who had a strong presence and simply to be in her presence was an honor.

The ruins were also powerful in how old they were and the literal layers of history represented. I loved how our guide interpreted the texts of the stone carvings--showing us that a woman had died giving birth due to an emergency c-section and that her child had lived. The feet under the woman showed both that the baby came feet first--necessitating the c-section--and that he lived to "walk away" later. I also appreciated all the cultures that had occupied that space and had participated in rituals there.” - Heather Fee-Alvarez

Photo by Tamara Negron

“A haiku- laundry hung on lines, cross continents with color, bring worlds together” - Meredith Schilsky

“I was absolutely enthralled by the visit with the artist. Her spirit, her words, her story, resonated so deeply with me. It was the perfect example of learning through art and I cannot wait to share her story with my students.” - Jessica Meland

Photo by Debra Bobinsky

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