Strong messages regarding both oppression and empowerment greeted the more than 100 people who attended the opening Oct. 9 of the "Exploring Gender through the Creative Arts" exhibition hosted by the Gender and Women's Studies Program at The University of Texas-Pan American.
The exhibit also includes a selection of Gender and Women's Studies Clothesline Project T-shirts from the hundreds created by UTPA students between 2005 and 2012. The shirts, part of a national program started in 1990 to address the issue of violence against women, provide a vehicle for those affected by the violence and others to express their emotions by decorating a shirt.
Attendees were greeted by UTPA President Robert S. Nelsen and Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Dr. Havidán Rodríguez.
Nelsen said it was sad that there are victims of the types of abuse exemplified by the shirts and other creative works.
"It is wrong. But you are telling the story and talking about what it is like to be a woman in this world," he said. "I challenge you to reach out to touch those in pain. We can stop the violence but can't do it alone. It is a moral responsibility for us to do so."
Winners included the following: Best in Show, $300, Rena Vela (painting); First Place, $200, Amalia L. Ortiz (poem); Second Place (a tie), $100 each, Sandi Milford (jewelry) and Ruby De La Fuente, $100 (painting). Ortiz also read her award-winning poem during the opening event. An award of $200 for best design of a logo that will be used by the Gender and Women's Studies Program went to Mariela Pena. Nine persons were also recognized with honorable mention.
The Gender and Women's Studies program provides interdisciplinary and global study of the history and theory of women, men, gender, sexuality, and other related topics through a minor or undergraduate certificate program.
The program's coursework and service learning opportunities provide students with skills to think in a flexible, internationally sensitive way and work and communicate with people across diverse fields. These skills are becoming more crucial in the 21st century and provide its students a greater ability to compete worldwide in their chosen careers.
The exhibit will be open through Oct. 19.
Visit the photo gallery of the exhibition's opening. For more information on the exhibition or the Gender and Women's Studies program, email Dr. Caroline Miles, program director, at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (956) 457-3083.