+ + From a Student Perspective: + +

At the beginning of the semester the instructor of the class was surprised to see such a diverse group of students and the different cultures they were from. The class consisted of students from Kenya, Japan, China and England, as well as the United States. Together we would be researching the work of two Mexican American artists and putting it into its cultural context. As the work progressed, we gained insights into the integration of cultures and discussed what meaning the work of Diego Rios and Consuelo Underwood what might have for our own lives.

We soon discovered that as the younger generation of “new Americans” we were able to bring a wide variety of opinions from our different upbringings. Students from Keyna, Taiwan, China and Japan reflected on how the history of their home countries affected their lives. They had been taught to value and preserve their cultures, but some students from other cultures had been taught otherwise. These students were taught that moving to another country would require sacrifices, and that they had to act in a certain way to ensure a more comfortable stay in a foreign place. A Chicano student related how much he appreciated the sacrifices his parents had made to live in America, and how coming from a less fortune country made him more thankful for the things he had here. As an Anglo-Indian recently come to the United States, I too was thankful for the ground I walked on.

Because we in the class came from so many different backgrounds, we were interested, not only in the art itself, but also in the backgrounds of the two artists. I identified personally with the discussions by the two artists of their backgrounds in Mexico and their identity as Americans. It was important to me as well as the rest of the students in the class to come to understand their backgrounds and to realize that that their art represented more than just a pretty picture to be hung up on a gallery wall. It spoke to our own efforts to retain our diverse heritages and yet be fully American.

--Anand Patal