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Weeks Gallery Exhibition: Las Leyendas/Legends

Drake University showcased an art gallery featuring the Latin American paintings and research of Drake students, both of which were inspired by the storytelling of Latin American community members. 

The gallery itself featured the paintings of Drake art students coupled with transcribed interviews about the Latin American legend each painting is based on. 

Professor Inbal Mazar, one of the organizing professors of the event, explained that her Spanish students have been collaborating with fellow Drake art students to create unique learning experiences for multiple years. 

“This is the third collaboration–our first was in 2017,” Mazar said. “Growing up in Central America, I got to listen to many legends and gain an interest in this tradition. I wanted to provide our students with a learning experience that goes beyond textbooks and connects them with first-hand access to this tradition as well.” 

One of the artists, Chloe Lazuire, explained her painting “The Frog Named Kuartam” along with its Latin American origins. 

The ‘Legends’ show was built around the idea of visually responding to South American legends told by people in the area as translated by Drake students,” Lazuire said. “I received the legend of Kuartam translated by Emily Smith — a story that warned people to respect legends and cultural history.”

Lazuire went on to explain that this event allowed her to create some of her best artistry, and that she would jump on any opportunity to be involved in such an event again.

“I would say it is one of my best pieces because it merges my love of illustration and humor with my love of realism and colorful lighting,” said Lazuire. “I hope to create more narrative illustrations like this in my future work. I had a great time.”

One of Professor Mazar’s collaborating students, Grace Robinson, spoke on what Mazar’s students contributed to the project along with her own contributions to “The Frog Named Kuartam.” 

“We did an interview with a woman named María Elena from Ecuador and asked her about any legends/lore she had from her home culture, and she shared with us the legend of Kuartam the Frog,” Robinson said. 

Robinson went on to explain that the painting was based on an essay she and her partner wrote about the legend of Kuartam the Frog following their interview.

Professor Mazar noted the event’s importance to the Des Moines community, as it works as a key bridge connecting Drake’s community to the rest of Des Moines.  

“The University spaces should feel inviting to the communities where they are located,” Mazar said. “We would like to welcome community members to our galleries and events. What better way to do so than to invite them to participate as well?”

The gallery was open every day from 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. until the April 3 closing session from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.


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