Digital abstract by Gustavo Rojas 1
Sept. 16, 2010
GETTYSBURG - Five noteworthy artists set a vibrant tone for the recognition of Hispanic Heritage Month through Oct. 15 at the Gettysburg Campus of HACC, Central Pennsylvania’s Community College.
The colorful paintings, portraits, serigraphs, digital prints and retablos – small religious oil paintings – are from Hispanic artists Leonor Alvim Brazão of Potomac Falls, Va.; Mara Odette of Bethesda, Md.; Gustavo Rojas of Teaneck, N.J.; Marta Sanchez of Philadelphia; and Nikki Schirro of New York City.
The exhibit will be featured during the annual Hispanic Heritage Celebration at the campus from 6-8:30 p.m. Friday, Oct. 8. The artwork can also be viewed during campus hours: 7:30 a.m.-9:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 7:30 a.m.-5 p.m. Friday and 7:30 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturday. The exhibit and celebration are free and open to the community.
Brazão exhibits two brightly colored acrylics on canvas entitled “Indian from Amazon” and “Fruits from Brazil.”
“The bold and confident lines that form these images on canvas express symbolically a search for Digital abstract by Gustavo Rojasthe essence of life and reveal the profound influences of my Portuguese heritage,” Brazão said. “The strong and vibrant colors of Brazil symbolize my intense celebration of each moment of life and demonstrate more clearly than words how the use of colors can change our lives.”
Brazão has a bachelor’s degree in visual communication from Mackenzie University in São Paulo. She has also studied music and dance and has worked in advertising as a graphic designer and art director. Now living in Virginia, she is currently artist-in-residence for Abrakadoodle, a franchised art education company.
"Fruit from Brazil" by Leonor BrazaoHer artwork was selected for the inaugural exhibition of the Latino Cultural Center in Dallas,  and she was one of the selected artists for the Fine Arts 2010 exhibition in South Africa during the World Cup. Her works are in private and public collections in countries around the world, including Brazil, Portugal, Netherlands and Guatemala, and in the U.S. in Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Texas, Rhode Island, Maryland, Virginia and Washington, D.C.
"Indian from Amazon" by Leonor BrazaoFive oil paintings by Mara Odette depict sentimental scenes such as “Street Sellers” and “Sombrero Market,” and gentle still lifes of everyday objects.
“After years of dreaming of my homeland in Chiapas [Mexico],” says Odette, “I have come to terms with my identity as a multifaceted artist; home is under my feet….Ancestral elements from the Mayas, Aztecs, Europeans and Americans are all part of my DNA; such chaos evolves into order, beauty and balance. My work reflects this journey.”
Odette’s work has been featured in solo shows and group exhibitions worldwide at locations including the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library in Washington, D.C., University of Beijing and the National Academy of Art in New Delhi.
Odette received her art education at Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico in Mexico City and through open programs at the Corcoran School of Art in Washington, D.C., and Maryland College School of Art. Her works are in private collections throughout the United States and in many other countries including Mexico, Ecuador, Costa Rica and Russia.
Gustavo Rojas exhibits seven digital art pieces featuring abstract forms and vibrant colors.
“I feel attached to the culture to which I belong and, through my work, I try to highlight the richness of the inherited and destroyed culture of my ancestors and achieve its continuity,” Rojas said. “I acknowledge it through symbols, color, form and space with an abstract style, joining the past with the present, distances and time, and thus I carry the message that satisfies my thirst for expression and achieves a communication with the spectator.”
Rojas studied at Sena Graphic Arts College and Universidad Nacional de Columbia in Bogata, and in advanced printmaking, digital photography and multimedia workshops in New York City.
His work has been featured in individual and group exhibitions at numerous galleries and museums in New York and New Jersey and in exhibits in Columbia and Chile, at the Biggs Museum of American Art in Dover, Del., the Columbian Consulate in New York City, the Museum of Contemporary Hispanic Art in New York City, and at various colleges and universities.  
Marta Sanchez’ exhibit at HACC includes Mexican retablo paintings and a series of paintings of San Antonio train yards near her childhood home.
“My work is an ongoing narrative recording the existence of my family and friends,” said Sanchez. “I strive to relate hope, prayers and humanity of the common man.”
“Transcendental Train Yards” is a suite of eight serigraphs of collaborative works between Sanchez and Chicana poet Norma E. Cantú. The paintings explore the role of trains in the Mexican migration through the Southern Pacific Railroad, and Cantú’s poetry in English and Spanish weaves around the edges of Sanchez’ paintings. Some of Sanchez’ paintings incorporate the Carpas, traveling circus and vaudeville troupes that performed throughout Mexico. Five retablos, created in oil paint on metal, capture the deepest held wishes and dreams of the subjects, as if the artist were lighting a candle in prayer for them.
Sanchez earned a master’s degree in fine art in painting from the Tyler School of Art, Temple University, and a bachelor’s degree in fine art in painting from the University of Texas at Austin. She has been an art instructor, guest lecturer and visiting artist, and she teaches at the Philadelphia Museum of Art and at Springside School in Philadelphia. Her work has been shown in multiple solo shows and invitational and juried exhibitions and is in private collections including those of the Philadelphia Museum of Art and The State Museum of Pennsylvania in Harrisburg.
Three huge portraits by Nikki Schirro, part of her commissioned “L’Orange Bleue” series, are on loan for this exhibit. The works vividly illustrate her philosophy as an artist:
“I am compulsively driven, thoroughly intrigued, to make sense of any intangibility regarding Being. I use art as a means for this; for containing, investigating and documenting external and internal relationships between things. I believe this will provide me with some kind of truth, or peace of mind. I work within the realm of portraiture, utilizing painting, drawing, photography and digital methodologies to focus on human condition and social discourse.”
Schirro has a bachelor’s and master’s degrees in fine art from Hunter College in  New York City. She has shown her artwork at multiple galleries and exhibitions in the New York City area, and she has begun to curate exhibitions using artwork from her artist community. She is currently completing an artist residency in Chengdu, China, where she is finishing a new body of work, experiencing the culture and people of Chengdu, and mentoring graduate students from Sichuan University in Chengdu.
HACC’s Gettysburg Campus is at 731 Old Harrisburg Road, near Weis Markets and Adams County National Bank. For information, call 337-3855.
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