Texas A&M University-Kingsville

East Los Angeles Primary School to be Named After Artist, Author and A&M-Kingsville Alumna Carmen Lomas Garza

KINGSVILLE - June 09, 2008

Contact: Jason Marton
jason.marton@tamuk.edu or 361-593-4143

Primary Center

Artist and author Carmen Lomas Garza, a Kingsville native and Texas A&I University alumna, will have a primary school in East Los Angeles named in her honor.

The Carmen Lomas Garza Primary Center will receive a formal naming celebration on June 12, featuring Garza, her family and friends, and the community committee of teachers, staff and East Los Angeles residents that nominated Garza for the honor.

The community committee was formed in 2004 to find the right person to name the ten-classroom school after, which will serve about 200 pre-kindergarten through second grade students, most of whom are first through third generation Mexican Americans.

The committee researched for two years before a teacher brought them one of Garza’s award-winning, bilingual children’s books, used by the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) and hundreds of other U.S. school districts. The committee unanimously agreed on Garza, then asked the artist for permission to use her name. The LAUSD Board approved the idea in March 2007.

When Garza received the letter from the community committee asking for permission to nominate her, she said she was stunned.

“Over the years, teachers, parents and children have expressed their delight in seeing my artwork and reading my books. Many times, teachers expressed their appreciation of the availability of the books for their curriculum development, and the inclusion of my artwork in textbooks. I did not imagine that the appreciation would some day result in my name on a school.

“This school naming is a tremendous honor that surpasses any recognition I have received in my career as an artist. It gives me great joy to know that my artwork and bilingual stories inspire children to read more, to talk and write about their own lives, and to create their own artwork.”

Garza’s books, which include “Family Pictures/Cuadros de familia,” “In My Family/En mi familia” and “Magic Windows,” feature artwork and stories by Garza describing her childhood in Kingsville. Since the first was published in 1990, the books have received a host of honors, including an American Library Association Notable Book honor, multiple Parent’s Choice Approved Book selections and a Best Book of the Year selection by the Library of Congress.

When asked to give advice to art students just starting their career, Garza said, “It takes passion, persistence and relentless pursuit to achieve a dream. That is the only way one can withstand the sacrifices, setbacks and difficult times in all creative endeavors.

“The rewards are your private joy, but the most precious reward is seeing how your dream brightens another human being, even if it is just for the few seconds it takes to see a painting.”

Garza is donating a number of prints to the new school for permanent display. Two of them, “Cumpleanos de Lala y Tudi 2003” and “Cakewalk 2003” are framed for display in the main office and the library, with three more donated works to be framed and placed throughout the school.

The donated works and the children’s books are just part of an extensive and acclaimed artistic career for Garza.

According to the artist statement on Garza’s website, she decided to become a visual artist at age 13 and pursue every opportunity to advance her knowledge of art in institutions of higher education. The first she attended was Texas A&I University, where she earned her bachelor’s degree and Texas teacher certification in 1972. She went on to earn a master of education degree in 1973 from Juarez-Lincoln/Antioch Graduate School in Austin, and a master of art degree from San Francisco State University in 1981.

Garza was inspired by the Chicano Movement to depict special and everyday events in the lives of Mexican Americans based on her memories and experiences in South Texas. Her main objective, she noted, was to make paintings, prints, installations for Day of the Dead, paper and metal cutouts that instill pride in Mexican American history and culture in American society.

Over the course of more than 30 years, the works of Garza have shown at the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Mexican Museum, the Smith College Museum of Art and at the Smithsonian Institution’s Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, among many different locations. Her works are among the public collections of the Smithsonian Museum of American Art, the Mexican Fine Arts Center Museum and the Library of Congress.

Public art commissions Garza has earned during her career include a copper wall sculpture for the San Francisco International Airport and an oil painting for the Federal Reserve Bank in Dallas.

She has earned fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) and the California Arts Council. She also participated in the International Creative Artists’ Residency Program in Mexico City and Oaxaca, Mexico, and the Rockefeller Study and Conference Center Residency Program in Bellagio, Italy.

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