Hispanic Heritage Month continues with art exhibit

International art was displayed for Hispanic Heritage Month Wednesday at Marshall University’s Visual Arts Center.

Edgar Jahir, a Latino artist from Oaxaca, Mexico, offered a free presentation and workshop for Huntington residents and Marshall students.

“[Jahir] has brought a lot of culture to [Marshall] through Hispanic pride,” Natsuki Anderson, chair of the Department of Modern Languages, said.

Jahir was invited to present an exhibition of his artwork to residents.

“Every year in September we celebrate Hispanic cultures,” Anderson said. “The Spanish program invited Jahir because one of our professors knew him and wanted students to learn from his work.”

Jahir adheres to the art styles of his ancestors by utilizing cochineal, organic paints created from insects and other ingredients found in nature. During the workshop, Jahir invited students to make cochineal and use it in their work. Jahir is not fluent in Spanish, and a translator aided the artist in communicating with students.

“This is obviously a very unfamiliar form of art for West Virginia,” Rachel Benturino, a senior English major, said. “Being able to reach out and learn from professionals is really educational.”

A large portion of Jahir’s presentation also dealt with the importance of Hispanic history and culture, something Anderson said she wants to see spread throughout campus.

“It can be difficult to inform students about these events and what to expect, but Spanish programs at Marshall and in surrounding high schools are helping students connect to different experiences,” Anderson said.

While a number of American students may be unfamiliar with aspects of foreign cultures, Benturino said taking foreign language classes can benefit students.

“I started taking Spanish classes because they were required, but now it’s my minor,” Benturino said. “I really enjoy studying [the language].”

In the future, Benturino said she would like to see more events showcase different cultures from around the world.

“I know [Huntington] already has some cultural activities but the more the better,” Benturino said.

Jahir will be sponsoring an exhibition and reception for his artwork as a conclusion to Marshall’s Hispanic Heritage Month 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. Sept. 29 at Studio 8.

Joelle Gates can be contacted at [email protected].