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Printing for the masses Relief exhibit follows workshop

Artist Zeke Peña talks to Camas Key, a UTRGV physics lecturer, about his art. Mario Gonzalez/The Rider

“YayBig Southwest,” an exhibit that opened last Tuesday in the Art Gallery at Rusteberg Hall on the Brownsville campus, featured work from artist Zeke Peña and other printmakers.

“It was an experience, as an artist, to grow and learn to see a different media in a different field and kind of enjoy, at least from this artist’s passion, how he works in his process,” said art freshman Vanessa Martinez, who was one of about 30 people who attended a workshop before the show opened.

In printmaking, artists carve an image into a piece of wood or other material and ink is then applied. Next, paper is pressed against the art by hand or with a pressing machine. Finally, the paper is separated from the material, revealing the completed relief print.

“I think it’s very interesting for somebody, like I, who is totally not familiar with printmaking,” Martinez said.“It’s very educational and really fun.”

Other artists featured are Jesus “Cimi” Alvarado, Carlos Barberena, Chris Bardey, Michael Contreras, Karsten Creightney, Francisco Delgado, Gonzalo Espinosa, Juan R. Fuentes, Manuel Guerra, Daniel Gonzalez, Devon Inglee, Eli Levin, Danny Martin, Joe Marshall, Juan de Dios Mora, Henry Morales, Marogon, Victor Muheddine, Martin Quintanilla, Rezizte, Michael Roman,Tanya Rich and Toru Sugita.

This exhibit started as an exchange of works between artists from Tucson and El Paso.

“It’s a conversation with all of these artists from different cities,” Peña said. “So, it’s kind of creating a dialogue, I think, and it’s allowing each artist to kind of show their work and then talk that way.”

The collection of prints is owned by artist and collector Karl Whitaker, an Albuquerque, N.M., native.“I think it’s really about inspiring people,” Peña said. “Really inspiring people to get the work out of the studio … and actually putting it out in the community, so that people can look at it.”

“Orale,” a piece Peña was asked to create, showing his love for El Paso, is featured in the exhibit. Peña said his love for El Paso is the same as his love for the city across the border, Juarez, Chihuahua, Mexico.

“So, the person that’s portrayed in the image is standing on a bridge [that] overlooks both El Paso and Juarez,” Peña continued. “There is some iconography in there, you know, ‘cholismo’ or ‘vato,’ which is kind of a classic iconic image for the Chicano community in El Paso.”

He said there are other symbolic images in his print. The person in the print is wearing a United Farm Workers button, which represents that he is conscious about politics and social injustice issues.

“In the background of the image, there is a picture or depiction of El Puente Negro, which is an iconic bridge from El Paso for people crossing the border,” Peña said.

The artists featured in the exhibit are from the Southwest and Mexico and their prints are inspired by Mexican art.

“I think it’s a really well put together exhibit. It shows a lot of relief prints,” said art junior Alex Garcia. “The level of technicality that these artists have is pretty amazing.”

The gallery’s 2015 Fall hours are 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday, 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Tuesday, 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Wednesday, 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Thursday and noon-4 p.m. Friday.

Admission is free for Patron of the Arts members. General admission is $1 and student semester passes are $3. The exhibit continues through Nov.25.

For more information, call the Art Gallery at Rusteberg Hall at 882-7025.

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