LCCC art gallery celebrates National Hispanic Heritage Month
This story originally aired on Keystone Edition Radio on Sept. 25.
For the first time, Luzerne County Community College is celebrating National Hispanic Heritage Month with a gallery exhibit featuring eight artists from across the diaspora.
The Schulman Gallery’s “Poderosas Raíces – Mighty Roots” exhibit at the Nanticoke campus opened on Sept. 16 and runs until Saturday, Oct. 15. That’s one day longer than expected, said exhibit curator Robert R. Husty. The extra weekend day was added due to the positive response from the community.
Husty said that three current students are represented among the emerging and professional artists at the Schulman Gallery.
Rosana Reyes, vice president of enrollment management and student affairs at the college, planned the exhibit. She said the themes of endurance and perseverance are important to the work of the showcased artists.
“I think that’s the beauty of this art exhibit, the spirit behind it which is focused on this ‘Mighty Roots – Poderosas Raíces,’ that speaks so often to the Latino culture,” Reyes said.
National Hispanic Heritage Month doesn’t begin on the first of the month, but that’s intentional. Instead, the cultural month runs from mid-September to mid-October to coincide with days of independence for Mexico, Cuba, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua and El Salvador.
Omar Rodriguez Jr. is a Cuban American artist from Scranton. His several pieces in the exhibit use a technique called “trompe-l’oeil” or “deceive the eye” in French. He has a degree in fine arts and illustration from LCCC, but now he’s faculty.
“I just love what I do and to teach it on this campus at Luzerne is even better, because I love to see the new wave of inspiring artists,” Rodriguez said. “It’s nice to see the next generation come to fold.”
Jorge Ariza is originally from Brooklyn’s Sunset Park neighborhood but lives in Taylor. He’s a graphic designer and illustrator with a handful of art featured at the Schulman Gallery. Ariza went to Keystone College and just finished a master’s degree at Marywood University.
“Both of my parents immigrated from Mexico back in the early ‘90s,” he said, adding that they emphasized education when he and his sister were growing up.
“They always taught me… ‘You have the privilege to get an education here, don’t waste it away,’” Ariza said.
Other artists in the exhibit represent Dominican and Puerto Rican heritage through oil paintings, sculptures, digital art and even mixed media including tree bark.
Husty said he was excited to include the artist Troyano, who goes by a pseudonym and uses tree bark in his art.
“Even though [the bark] has fallen, it continues to live and continues to endure through his artwork,” Husty said, comparing the exhibit’s tree and roots imagery to the artist’s style. “It lives again.”
Hispanic students now make up about 17% of LCCC’s total student population. That’s up from around 5% of the student population from seven or eight years ago, according to Reyes.
“The growth of Latinos in this region brings a lot of special things to NEPA,” Reyes said. “The talent, the contributions and the experience of all these artists are now represented through these walls.”