by Maria Navarro Alejandres

I am sharing the art of Folklorico Danzas, which originated from Mexican culture and was then brought over to the United States in order to build a community between Mexican and American people. Through this art I’m hoping to celebrate the way that dance can form a celebratory bond between completely different groups of people. I believe it’s important for people to realize that since the beginning of time, different cultures and groups of people put their differences aside to come together and share their celebrations with each other. I am sharing this art hoping that our community will be able to appreciate it and walk away with a more open mind towards people that are different. Remembering that we have one thing in common, which is the need for the people around us to harmonize and find ways to be in union, especially during difficult times, allowing each other to feel secure in letting who they are show. When we learn to accept each other the community blossoms, due to the fact that no one has to keep their heart to themselves anymore. With an open heart, we can bring more life to our surroundings.

The way that art has impacted my life has been more significant from the “viewer” stance recently. Although in my early years, I was put into Folklorico dance classes. At the time I did not enjoy it and it didn’t feel natural for me, but the skills I learned stuck with me and as I grew I began to learn more about my culture, and appreciate it more deeply. In doing this, I began to dance again . Also, I have always loved driving through cities and seeing the kind of art that is chosen to represent other communities, and I think that’s beautiful. Feeling like I could see a part of myself in public art was always an important part of feeling connected to where I was.

I hadn’t thought about making my own public art until I felt that something was missing in our community. I’ve only lived in Camas for 4 years, but I remember that before moving from Woodland, WA my classmates told me that I wouldn’t fit in and that it would be extremely hard because I am a person of color. When actually moving to Camas I realized that there are many different kinds of people here, especially as I entered high school. This made me see that the people who think Camas has “no culture” either aren’t from here, haven’t seen it for themselves, or haven’t seen their community as it is. That is why I feel there should be different groups represented in our public Camas spaces. What better way than through art?

I chose to title my art ‘Release’ because it goes from a sharp, still image, to a blur of motions. Looking at this artwork I feel that it captures the feeling of beginning a dance. Going from the feeling that everyone is watching and needing to be perfect, to letting your heart feel the music and doing what feels right. Allowing your energy and happiness to be released and reach the people around you, impacting them in a way that allows them to do the same. One thing I really like about this artwork is that as you walk by it, the movement will begin and it is like you are beginning to go through a part of the dancer’s journey. I also really appreciate Mrs. Wakeman taking the pictures of me dancing, capturing my preferred form of art (dancing) in a way that I could convert it into a frame for everyone to see.