Immigrant students craft second annual ‘Home’ exhibition at Art Base in Basalt

Staff report
Students working on their self portraits for the "Home" at the Art Base last year.
Anna Stonehouse/The Aspen Times

The Art Base in Basalt will host the second annual “Home: Un Hogar” exhibition, showcasing a collaborative project by teen immigrants in a partnership with Basalt High School’s English Language Development Program.

The show opens today with a reception from 5 to 7 p.m. The exhibition runs through Dec. 20.

Newcomer students from El Salvador have been exploring the definition of home with artist MYXZ over the past eight weeks at the Art Base. MYXZ and the students imagined different ideas about home and explored found objects and stories. A mural of the students’ ideal hometown — complete with a self-portrait and a poem created by each of the students — commemorates their achievements in their first art class.

The students participating in this project are enrolled in the English Language Development program at Basalt High School taught by Leticia Guzman Ingram, who in 2016 was named Colorado Teacher of the Year. Most of the students, aged 14 to 18, arrived in the U.S. in the past few months — often after grueling journeys — and are just beginning to learn English and acclimate to life in Colorado.

An innovative effort to foster community through art, welcome these newcomers to the valley and build bridges between the midvalley’s Spanish- and English-speaking residents, “Home” was launched last year at the Art Base.

“This is a great way to express their feelings without necessarily vocalizing them,” Ingram said last year. “We want people not to be scared of the unknown. Both the kids not being scared of art and the community not being scared of these kids.”

The Basalt community will be invited to add their own definitions of home and identity to the mural over the course of the exhibition.

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The immigrant experience is also in the spotlight this weekend at The Temporary at Willits, where English In Action and Writ Large are teaming up to bring the live storytelling experience “Immigrant Voices” On Saturday night.

Performing without scripts, six local immigrants from five different countries will share stories of their personal experience of leaving home and creating a new future.

The participants are Eeswar Atluri from India, Diana Cardenas from Columbia, Rosa Contreras from Guatemala, Jose Miranda from Venezuela, Ignacio Pimentel from Mexico and Iliana Renteria from Mexico. Doors open at 6 p.m.

“It takes courage to speak in public,” said Writ Large’s Alya Howe. “Imagine how much courage it takes to stand up and speak in your non-native tongue … it has been a privilege to work with all these storytellers and to journey with them to be there for opening night.”