ALAS Building Bridges Panel Emphasizes Uniting Communities through Art and Education

BuildingBridgesby Ashley Cavadas-Fonseca

The third panel through the Association of Latin American Students (ALAS) was held on Thursday, April 2 to a room filled with artists, educators, and arts administrators. Called “Building Bridges: Museums, Communities, and Latin American Art,” the panel brought together people who shared a common goal of uniting their museums and communities through their unique programming. Remei Capdevila, the Senior Manager of Education at El Museo del Barrio, and Nung-Hsin Hu, the coordinator of the New New Yorkers Program at the Queens Museum, engaged in a conversation that was moderated by Olga Hubbard, Professor in Art & Education from Teachers College.

Nung-Hsin Hu discussed the purpose of the New New Yorkers program, which aims to “Broaden horizons and teach valuable life skills through the arts, through offering adult immigrants the opportunity to interact closely with accomplished professional artists and engage with their innovative work.” The arts, technology, and language learning are emphasized, and Nung-Hsin stressed that participants’ ideas and feedback could lead to future programming at the museum. The valuable program occurs in the most diverse borough in New York City and constantly evolves to meet the needs of its Queens community.

Remei Capdevila continued on the importance of community in her work at El Museo del Barrio. She mentioned that “education and community are at the heart of the work done at the museum.” She highlighted the many programs that occur at the museum throughout the year including “Super Sabados,” “Three Kings Parade,” Youth Council for teens, artist residencies, as well as special access programs and programming for parents to get involved alongside their children.

After the panel, I spoke with Pilar Riofrio-Flores, the President of ALAS, about how these panels began and about her work with ALAS. Through a research project surrounding Latin American art, Pilar began to notice a shift in the way this work was being brought to the public and began to see the strong connections between Latin American communities in New York City. She worked alongside Lina Alfonso, the Vice President and Treasurer of ALAS, to bring these conversations to Teachers College and build a network on campus. Pilar said, “Education builds stronger bonds with the community,” a topic that was clearly seen through the work of the featured panelists.