Texas A&M University-Kingsville

A&M-Kingsville Art Professor Santa Barraza Awarded Heroes for Children Honor by State Board of Education

KINGSVILLE - December 04, 2008

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

The State Board of Education awarded Santa Barraza, professor of art at Texas A&M University-Kingsville, one of its 2008 Heroes for Children Awards during a ceremony Friday, November 21.

The Heroes for Children Awards are for individuals who volunteer time, effort and support to public schools and students, and who advocate for students and public education in Texas. They are given annually in recognition of outstanding service and dedication to helping provide each Texas student with a meaningful, positive learning experience in school. The State Board of Education selects 15 Heroes for Children—one person from each of the 15 State Board of Education districts. Recipients are nominated by individual persons or by organizations.

Barraza was nominated by Tamara R. Ybarra. She first discovered Barraza as an artist through her book, Santa Barraza, Artist of the Borderlands, becoming a fan of her work. Ybarra would later see the artwork and the artist in person. “In 2005 while working as part of the Hispanic Heritage Conference hosted by the Hispanics Organized for Public Education, I had an opportunity to see her artwork firsthand,” said Ybarra. “We were fortunate enough to get her to come and not only display her artwork in the gallery, but she also came and gave a workshop for the visiting children from the various schools who participated in the conference. 

“She taught the children how to make retablos, which are frames made from aluminum with imprinted designs. In addition, she brought an artist along who was from Mexico and they both worked on a unique type of art made with colored sand. It was truly a treat for all who participated.”

She cited this and other regional efforts by Barraza that, according to Ybarra, expose people to the rich art and culture that Hispanics have to offer. “Barraza has given unselfishly to many of the surrounding communities, including Corpus Christi, Kingsville and Premont, just to mention a few. She inspires students to explore their talents as artists and encourages them to continue their education by going to college.”

Among the art education projects Barraza has been involved in is the El Tigre Art Camp. For the last two years, she has directed this unique day camp for elementary students from the town of Sarita. Second through sixth graders learn eight different forms of art, with Barraza and visiting artists serving as the teachers. This year, artists Zulma Aguilar of Los Angeles, Claudia Zapata of Austin and Stephanie Elizondo Griest of New York taught the students painting, printmaking, podcasting, blogs, writing, animation, movie making and drawing from June 16-27 at the A&M-Kingsville campus.
Barraza also is a board member of the South Texas Youth Development Council, Inc., a local, community-based organization in Kingsville providing educational and cultural enrichment programs for Latino children and other at-risk children residing in the rural South Texas communities of Kingsville, Petronila and Robstown.

“I’ve always tried to incorporate kids into grant-sponsored art programs I’ve been involved with throughout the years, going back to a teaching position in Chicago more than 10 years ago.

“The kids are the future. If you don’t make creativity a part of future generations, then creativity dies.”

Barraza’s vita reflects a career complete with awards, appearances and lectures, exhibitions and publications. Her work is in the permanent collections of the Museum of Texas Tech University, Mexican Museum in San Francisco, Del Mar College, Fondo del Sol Museum, South Texas Museum, Olin Museum at Bates College and the Hispanic/Latino Archives of the Tomas Ybarra Frausto Collection at the Smithsonian Institute.

A native of Kingsville, Barraza formerly taught at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and at Penn State University at University Park before joining A&M-Kingsville in 1997. She received her bachelor's degree in studio painting and drawing from the University of Texas in 1975 and her master's in 1982.

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