Words and photography by David Rosario. Photos are at the end of this article.
Hispanic Heritage Month came and went, but not without an extraordinary effort by Nike and Miami-Dade County Public Schools to promote the importance of art and hispanic culture. Both Nike and the school system teamed up to offer a chance of a lifetime by giving hundreds of Miami-Dade high school kids the chance to enter their artwork into a contest filled with the positivity of Hispanic Pride.
Students were put on a creative challenge, where they were placed to create a work of art that best expressed their own Hispanic Pride. The contest fueled entries from all over the county, and all the entries were displayed at an art space in Wynwood onÂ October 23, 2008 in a wonderful presentation and award ceremony. Hundreds of high school kids were greeted by Nike with a well put together space that was centered around their submitted artwork and a couple pairs of the super-limited Hispanic Pride exclusive sneaker (only 500 pairs made in the US) that were displayed around the room, which brought all the kids to excitement as they found out that they were each getting a pair. There was even a DJ that played sounds as caterers served delicious hispanic foods and drinks. It was a eclectic environment.Â
Univision host Satcha Pretto emcee’d the event, whileÂ Miami-Dade Superintendent Alberto Carvalho was on hand to cheer on the participants and the winners. He also assured the kids that art will never be left behind and forgotten about in the county’s curriculum. Nike GMÂ Maria Montano was also present. She was one of the contests’ judges and also provided the back story to Nike’s deep passion for Hispanic Heritage and support for the youth. The other judges included hip-hop artistÂ Fat Joe, tattoo artist Chris Nunez of Miami Ink fame, professional baseball player Gio Gonzales and pop-artist Lebo.
It was especially great to get to know each of the judges as they each responded to a question in relation to pride, which was what each of their most proud moments were in their lives. Fat Joe mentioned his discovery of Big Pun.Â Lebo loved how he is able to be a successful musician and be recognized by his hometown of Miami. Gio Gonzalez was proud that he won his first MLB game against the Tampa Bay Rays, who were actually in the World Series this year. And Chris Nunez mentioned that his proudest moment was the time that he let his mom give him a tattoo because only then was it that he realized how connected he was to his mother and to his heritage. Chris’ answerÂ was a bit of an edgy-memory, but it drew a lot of praise from the crowd because of that deep connection that a lot of us share with our parents.
While the competition was extremely hard to judge, the top three entries were selected.
3rd Place – Miami Springs High School – Individual Submission by Yankiel Mompeller
A great piece that swirled around different elements and images of Hispanic culture. Medium used was color-pencil. Yankiel received a special Nike award and a $1000 check donation to Miami Spring’s art program, on Mompeller’s behalf.
2nd Place – Hialeah High School – Team Submission by Alex Alvarez, Joshua Arcia, Cinthya Cabrera, Yelena Gonzalez, Luis Infante, Sue Montoya, Elizabeth Lago, Jorge Perez, Alex Rodriquez, Eduardo Saenz, Ashley Saludes y Jane Suarez
An amazing group effort that displayed amazing skill in portraiture. Mediums included everything from pen, markers and pencil. The team received a special Nike award and a $1500 check donation to Hialeah High’s art program, on the team’s behalf.Â
1st Place – South Miami High School – Individual Submission by Laura Garcia
A very touching piece that brought a sense of pride to everybody who saw it and knew the story behind it. Her piece was classified under Mixed Media and what was special was that Laura included the passport photos of her family members that migrated to Miami from Cuba embedded in the piece. Laura was beyond happy and was brought to tears when she won – striking the hearts of everybody in the room. She received a special Nike award and a $2500 check donation to South Miami’s art program, on her behalf. The student body at South Miami High School will also receive a Nike t-shirt with an image of Garcia’s artwork, this week.
A great event and a great showing by both Nike and Miami Dade County Public Schools. Both working together to keep art and Hispanic Pride alive and well. Photos can be viewed below (click on thumbnail to enlarge)