Children’s art exhibit is much more than glazed clay – The Durango Herald

The Spanish organization seeks to help people with limited access to mental health resources

Volunteer Gianna Gomar shows children how to improve their pottery and relieve stress at the Mancos Painted Turtle Studio and Gallery. “They’ve learned about so many things, like what a furnace is. Being in the studio opened their eyes to a whole new world,” Gomar said. (Courtesy of Construyendo Poder)

A children’s art exhibit was held Saturday at the Durango Public Library. The exhibit was called “Aquí Estamos” (Here we are) and featured ceramics and drawing by Spanish-speaking children ages 5 to 10.

The artwork is part of a larger program called Construyendo Poder (Building Power) that seeks to strengthen the mental health of Durango’s Hispanic community, a community that has long been overlooked by the majority of the population, Sarah Ilsley said , one of the organization’s volunteers. .

“In our town, they don’t really show up,” Ilsley said. “They are in the background. They make beds and clean people’s houses, but they don’t see each other. We want them to know we see them.

A child’s clay heart on display at the Aquí Estamos Art Show at the Durango Public Library. (Megan K. Olsen/Durango Herald)

Construyendo Poder was founded in 2018 by executive director Wendolyn Omaña, along with Illsley and other organizers, who decided to do something to help people in their community, especially those who lived their lives as caretakers, but not have received a lot of care for themselves.

“A lot of these people don’t have health care, especially mental health care,” Omana said, “and child care is expensive.”

Omaña then decided to provide therapeutic options for those who could not get it elsewhere.

“We started teaching people in our group how to do yoga,” Omana said. “A lot of them didn’t know what yoga was. We taught them breathing exercises and how to heal their bodies and minds.

“We started doing retreats and clinics,” Ilsley adds. “Teaching Yoga. Teaching therapeutic massage. We teach about herbs and acupuncture. We help people in our community learn how to deal with stress.”

A large component of Construyendo Poder provides therapeutic programs for youth in the community, which includes pottery classes.

Children’s pottery on display at the Aquí Estamos art exhibit at the Durango Public Library. (Megan K. Olsen/Durango Herald)

“Clay is good for calming the nervous system,” Omana said. “A lot of our kids have a hard time at school. This helps with their confidence. They can see their art and what they have achieved. It (the pottery) also connects them to their Mesoamerican roots.

“I’m having so much fun with ceramics!” said one of the program’s youth members, Kimberly Robles, 6.

“I’ve never done anything with clay before,” said Kimberly’s father and Construyendo Poder volunteer, Ivan Robles. “I like to sit and create something with the children. When you shape the clay, you breathe life into something. It doesn’t matter how beautiful it is. You made it. It’s all yours. And you share this experience with others.

Painted Turtle Studio and Gallery in Mancos opened its doors to the program to allow children access to a real studio.

“The painted turtle was so great for us,” said Gianna Gomar, the program’s pottery teacher. “They’ve learned about so many things, like what a furnace is. Being in the studio opened their eyes to a whole new world.”

Kimberly Robles, 6, proudly displays her pottery at the Aquí Estamos children’s art exhibit at the Durango Public Library. (Megan K. Olsen/Durango Herald)

One of the program’s senior members, Veronica Galvez Zarate, smiles from ear to ear as she discusses what the retreats and clinics have done for her and her family.

“It was a really beautiful experience,” Galvez Zarate said. “Many of us have a lot of stress in our lives. We work so hard as Latin Americans. With these retreats, we feel very noticed. We learn how to control our stress. We do massages and practice yoga. We learn how to meditate. They teach us about herbs and how they can prevent disease. They also teach our children how they can deal with their stress through art and other activities. I didn’t know any of that before I started.”

Gálvez Zarate then added insight on how Construyendo Poder changed her for the better.

“I used to be very shy, but now I talk all the time,” she said with a smile. “I feel different. I feel like I have more tools to get through difficult things. I know how to relax more. How to rebuild my body inside and out and keep fighting. I feel more empowered than ever, and that’s the point.”

[email protected]

Leave a Comment