Art is a universal language that allows people to express themselves without having to say a word.
Crystal Bridges’ partnership with the Arts Center of the Ozarks (ACO) is giving Northwest Arkansans the ability to tell their story without saying a word.
Creating art is not something Acucena Peralez ever pictured herself doing. “Virgin Mary inspires me on her colors, and the history it has behind it,” she said. “It’s something very special that I cannot explain.”
That is until she found the Language of Art program.
It’s a collaboration between the Springdale Family Literacy Program, Community Creative Center, and the Arts Center of the Ozarks.
Now it includes art-making, thanks to Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art.
“At Crystal Bridges, we think it’s really important to make art more accessible to everyone in the community. One of these programs is a great way to do so. It’s introducing participants to different art centers around Northwest Arkansas,” says Senior Museum Educator Emily Rodriguez.
Forty works of art by these English-language learners are on exhibition and scattered across the Arts Center of the Ozarks, reflecting each artist’s identity and cultural values.
“They started making art in September 2018, and have used a variety of media including acrylics, watercolors, ceramics, and textiles,” Rodriguez said.
The theme this spring is expressing your legacy; depicting what values and customs are important to you, and what you would like to see in the future generation.
“It’s about the expressions and the colors, so every single thing you’ll see here, the colors were chosen for a reason,” says Viviana Pagan, an artist and instructor.
These women come from various Latin-American countries.
“I think we’ve all been in that process when we find ourselves in a situation where it’s hard to put into words things we really want to say about ourselves, and I think using art as a way of doing that was perfect,” Pagan said. “A lot of them have mentioned how they now see the world through different eyes because now they understand the colors and techniques.”
As Peralez admires her artwork depicting the Virgin Mary in a professional gallery, she continues to hone the creative skills she never knew she had.
“She inspires me…like a mother. She gives you love. Her smell, like roses. The sky that covers us, this whole world. It’s very, very special for me,” Peralez said.
This art is on exhibition at the ACO until June 15.
The ACO is open Tuesday through Friday from 10 a.m to 2 p.m.