A World United through Art: Tenth Anniversary Exhibition, San Juan, Puerto Rico

By Springer, Julie | School Arts, May-June 2005 | Go to article overview

A World United through Art: Tenth Anniversary Exhibition, San Juan, Puerto Rico


Springer, Julie, School Arts


In 1994, Socorrito Diaz, an elementary art teacher at the Baldwin School of Bayamon, Puerto Rico, launched an ambitious international art collaboration. Networking with other educators who, like herself, were alumni of the National Gallery of Art's summer Teacher Institute, she came up with the idea of ah international-student art exchange. Each year, participating teachers select the best of their students' artwork and send it to that year's host site, where it is exhibited and enjoyed by children, school faculty, and parents alike.

This year's tenth anniversary exhibition was held, appropriately, where the project originated--in San Juan. Sixteen countries participated including Australia, Guatemala, Japan, Mexico, Spain, the United States, Sri Lanka, Venezuela, Tanzania, Mexico, and Thailand--the latter a long-time contributor sending consistently high-quality artwork, distinctive for its densely patterned and sophisticated decorative design.

Each annual exhibition has a theme. This year's focus on Art, Tradition, and Stories encouraged students to give visual expression to the myth, traditions, celebrations, and other unique features of their native lands. The young Thai artists all celebrated the flowers and butterflies indigenous to their country, giving their display a compelling thematic unity. Several Peruvian students sent lively pictures of couples dancing the Marinera, their traditional dance of courtship. Paintings from India were rich in religious and civic pageantry, including nine-year-old Navia Dayal's colorful parade of elephants from the annual Hindu festival of the Gods at Vadakkumnathan Temple, in Trichur, in southern India.

Each country's entries were given their own space in a beautifully restored nineteenth-century military barracks, in the northwest sector of Old San Juan. On opening night, student volunteers from Baldwin School interpreted the international entries--each dressed in the traditional costume of the country he of she represented. …

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