Art Education graduate students visit Guatemala

Thursday, May 4, 2017
Students raise the hook em hand sign while posing with their alfombra

The Department of Art and Art History took 10 graduate students in Art Education on an eight-day whirlwind of a trip to Antigua, Guatemala, where they participated in Easter Holy Week celebrations.

“I enjoyed learning about the different cultures we interacted with,” Maggie Exner, a second-year master’s student. “We learned about the Spanish culture because they started Catholicism in Guatemala.”

Throughout the week, she said they saw families spend the entire week together in celebration, in a way that’s not seen in American culture. The students also observed how the religion blended with the traditions of the Mayan culture that first populated the country.

The main goal of the trip was to participate in Holy Week, or Semana Santa, and create an alfombra with the community. An alfombra is an elaborate street carpet made of colored sawdust and decorated with plants to serve as an offering during the week’s processions and celebrations. Students worked together to plan their design months before leaving Texas.

Students also visited a coffee plantation, a women’s weaving cooperative and an herb garden.

Christina Bain, associate professor and assistant chair of the Art Education program, participated in the trip for the first time this year and said she was amazed at the learning opportunity it offers students. The trip began about five years ago when Paul Bolin, professor and graduate advisor for art education, brought the first group of graduate students.

Each year they stay at Casa Herrera, a research, conference and teaching facility in Antigua under the direction of Milady Casco (M.A., Art Education, 2010). The house is part of a partnership between Art and Art History’s Mesoamerica Center and the Guatemalan nonprofit Fundación Pantaleón. It serves as a venue and dormitory for research and teaching of Pre-Columbian art and archaeology.

For more photos and a full recap of the trip, visit the student-run blog.

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