Art, Youth, and Friendship

By: Ashmar Mandou

Lawndale News Chicago's Bilingual Newspaper - EducationLatino Art Beat held their second annual Youth Arts Initiative in Havana, Cuba earlier this month, once again transforming the lives of talented young artists across the island. “It’s incredible to see the eagerness and passion from students to participate in this initiative,” said President of Latino Art Beat Don Rossi Nuccio. “It is always an honor to come back and partner with Casas de Cultura and Cuban Ministry of Culture to reach high school students with such tremendous talent and who speak high praise for American students.”

The partnership between Latino Art Beat and the Cuban Ministry of Culture began in March of 2016 when Rossi Nuccio served as a guest of the Obama White House during the former Present’s historic trip to Cuba. “I distinctly remember former President Obama’s message to us all about connecting with people. I took that message to heart and decided to have Latino Art Beat expand its mission outside of the United States,” said Rossi Nuccio. Latino Art Beat introduced an art competition to the youth of Cuba themed “Friendship between the Youth of the United State and Cuba.” The first initiative was an unequivocal success, which resulted in inviting two top Cuban young competition winners to study at the prestigious Maryland Institute College of Art, Baltimore, MD (MICA) for its advanced art summer courses.

This year’s competition winners, who followed the same theme as the previous year, participated in a ceremony held at the Casas de Cultura headquarters in Havana where they were able to display their artwork in front of their parents, teachers, family members, and government officials. “It is extremely important to continue to build this partnership between our organizations and provide a platform for students…students who are self-reflective, knowledgeable, passionate, and students who have ambition,” said Rossi Nuccio. Among this year’s winner was Stephenie Rivero Toledo, 17, who created a drawing reflecting the fusion of a self-portrait with that of an American woman titled, “Ser Humano.”

“In the artwork which I submitted, I have represented how two cultures can be together as one, and it doesn’t matter if they are different. Sometimes we forget that we all are the same,” said Toledo in a statement. Each student was awarded with gift boxes containing substantial at materials and supplies, and a ribbon medallion. One of last year’s winners was Favio Felipe Gonzalez, 17, who studied in the United States through the Latino Art Beat/MICA scholarship initiative and now serves as Latino Art Beats First Youth Ambassador in Cuba. “I wish to relay my thanks to Don Rossi Nuccio for this opportunity through Latino Art Beat and MICA. It’s not only the experience I had in studying advanced art outside of my country -it made me a better student and also a better artist.”

As for what’s next for Latino Art Beat, Rossi Nuccio shared his upcoming plans. “It is Latino Art Beats objective to hopefully be able to do a proper student exchange with U.S. students going to Cuba and Cuban students once again coming to the States to study during the summer of 2019. “MICA”, our premier academic partner is already on board and committed to receive next year’s young Cuban student artist winners of this milestone competition”

Lawndale News Chicago's Bilingual Newspaper - Education

Lawndale News Chicago's Bilingual Newspaper - Education

Photo Caption 1: (Left to right) Angel Luis Vazconsuelos Bambino, Honorable Mention; Don Rossi Nuccio, president Latino Art Beat; Stephenie Rivero Toledo, 1st Place; Alejandro Triana Romero, Honorable Mention; Jonatan Hernadez Ladron de Guevara, 2nd Place; Jerhemias Hernadez Ladron de Guevara, Honorable Mention; and Favio Felipe Gonzalez, Youth Ambassador (First appointed in Cuba).

Photo Caption 2: Gold Medal winner Stephanie Rivero Toledo of Santa Clara, Villa Clara, Cuba
Title: “Ser humano”

Photo Caption 3:Silver Medal winner Jonatan Hernández Ladrón de Guevara of Lawton 10 de Octubre La Habana
Title: “Somos todos”

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