HOUSTON, TX (KTRK) — We’re in the middle of Hispanic Heritage Month and we continue to share stories that impact our community. ABC13 highlights the Houston Arts Alliance, and we learned more about who they are and how they’re working to reach more Hispanic artists since spotting a gap between the organization and the city’s demographics.
Patrick Medrano is a painter and sculptor, and Sonia Flores describes herself as a mixed media artist. Both are different types of creatives but come together to paint a better idea of how the Houston Arts Alliance has helped them on their artistic journeys to inspire other artists, especially Hispanics.
Flores said that as a recent grantee she felt that her work was not only valued but validated.
“Everything I do is gig work. The grant gave me an opportunity to give value to my work and not just be a hobby that I do and take my art seriously,” said Flores.
Medrano, on the other hand, explained that he knows firsthand what young artists might be experiencing right now.
“Most of the time we sit around trying to figure out how we, as young artists, spend eight hours a day doing a job that doesn’t give us anything in our soul so we can go home and produce the art that means something to us. It’s so hard to reconcile, and with organizations like the Houston Arts Alliance, they make it very possible by giving you a head start,” he said.
Michele Leal Farah said she loves hearing the positive feedback but there is still work to be done. As vice chair of HAA’s board of directors, she said that since awarding approximately $15 million annually, scholarships abound, but there are not enough applicants, reflecting our city’s demographics.
Data from the City of Houston Health Department shows that Hispanics make up nearly 41% of the city’s population. With that, Leal Farah said that justice is one of the core pillars of the Alliance, and after looking at this type of data, they identified a gap between the organization and the Hispanic community.
Because of this, members of the organization have worked to translate their resources into Spanish and even simplify their application process.
“You know and I know that we are the majority of the population here and therefore we should be the majority of applicants and the majority of grantees. That’s what we’re working towards,” said Leal Farah.
She said it’s also possible that the arts community just doesn’t know who they are and how to help. Medrano added that it’s likely that young emerging artists in certain communities simply don’t understand the organization’s message given their context.
“If you don’t have access to a computer or a library, you don’t have access to knowledge and resources,” he said.
Since winning a grant in 2007, Medrano has worked on a number of projects and was recently selected as the featured artist for the nonprofit’s upcoming gala and fundraiser. He is working on the piece now called The Circle, a five-armed puppet that is designed to be interactive.
Flores recently showed us a macrame sheet she created as part of a larger collection called Nebula One. She said all of the materials were paid for with grant money and explained the story behind the colorful piece.
Her latest installation is already in motion since receiving offers from other galleries to exhibit her work. Flores said this is the perfect example of how the Houston Arts Alliance has helped her grow her craft.
“When the money runs out, the opportunities don’t exist as long as you keep pushing it. You stay relevant and you stay in the public eye,” she said.
It’s also her secret to making her voice heard and getting recognition for her work, but not before she’s found the inspiration and confidence to believe that others could be the next grantees.
“You can imagine fighting and suddenly an organization says, here’s $6,000,000. Let’s see what you can do. That’s power for an artist,” Medrano added.
Visit the Houston Arts Alliance website for more information
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https://abc13.com/houston-arts-alliance-hispanic-heritage-month-demographics-patrick-medrano/12294220/ Hispanic Heritage Month: The Houston Arts Alliance bridges the gap between resource-constrained artists