Latina artist takes on fine arts’ fate
By Jesse Garcia
When María Teresa García Pedroche picked up a paintbrush in her aunt’s Montessori preschool, she began a love affair with the arts, unfolding her destiny.
Her aunt noticed a hidden talent and advised María Teresa to explore drama, music and art so that she could fully embrace her own creative process. That is probably the best career advice ever given to a 4-year-old.
Through art, María Teresa not only found her passion in life but also excelled as a student. Years of research have proven that children involved in the arts tend to do better academically. Art learners tend to have better cognitive and critical-thinking abilities that can improve math and reading scores.
Born and raised in Brownsville, Texas, María Teresa went on to earn a bachelor’s degree in fine arts from Southwest Texas State University (now Texas State University) and a master’s degree in fine arts from Texas Woman’s University. She created her own art and traveled the world, exhibiting all over Texas, Mexico and Spain, where she entered competitions and received awards.
For 10 years at the Meadows Museum, she curated diverse programs and exhibitions, including “Cristina García Rodero: Photographic Eye of Spain” and Latin-American photography. She was selected to be guest curator for Fotofest in Houston and organized the inaugural exhibition at the Latino Cultural Center.
Today, María Teresa gets paid to promote the world of art in Dallas, where she hopes to inspire other 4-year-olds to see the world through their own imagination. She is head of the Family Experiences and Community Engagement at the Dallas Museum of Art, with duties that include engaging a new generation of admirers and patrons to appreciate DMA.
Infórmate DFW: Tell us about the Dallas Museum of Art.
Pedroche: DMA has a proud history of serving the North Texas community, connecting art and people, and welcomes approximately 600,000 visitors each year. The museum features an outstanding global collection of more than 24,000 ancient and modern works of art from around the world.
Infórmate DFW: Why is it important for a city to support the arts?
Pedroche: DMA serves as an economic art magnet to the city’s business community. While visiting DMA, tourists utilize local hotels, restaurants, shops and indirectly support Dallas’ economy while supporting DMA and other local museums. The arts are the soul of the community ¾ helping to reflect and promote the city’s history and the community’s cultural diversity: past, present and evolving. Quality, creative arts and cultural opportunities create a sense of community pride and a sense of place.
Infórmate DFW: What advice do you have for Latinos and Latinas who want to go into the arts?
Pedroche: Speaking and understanding several languages and cultures will open doors for you. Be proud of your heritage and language(s). Don’t be afraid to give voice to your culture, emotions and energy through your artwork. Travel and see arts communities in the United States and abroad. Volunteer in areas you are interested in, so you can experience working behind the scenes. Museums and other arts organizations have internships, where you can get experience to move upward. Many of the students who were hired as interns are directors in several departments. The experience is priceless.
Infórmate DFW: Tell us about your goals with DMA.
Pedroche: I am totally focused in engaging and working with all audiences. Communities in Dallas, especially newly arrived immigrants, are welcomed at the museum, making them feel at home. DMA does tremendous outreach work with schools, tours and communities at large. The demographics show that Dallas is multicultural; we need to bridge the cultural difference and find common language through the arts.
Infórmate DFW: How is DMA engaging the Latino population?
Pedroche: The response from the Latino community has been favorable with dynamic attendance increasing annually. The Latino visitors to DMA have expressed appreciation for the bilingual communication and feel welcomed. DMA reaches out to the Latino community in many ways. We have bilingual flyers for programs and events related to the collection that is being exhibited. Last year, DMA initiated a museum-wide celebration of its entire Mexican collection and created a bilingual brochure for visitors.
The “México 200” program featured exhibitions “Tierra y Gente: Modern Mexican Works on Paper” and “José Guadalupe Posada: The Birth of Mexican Modernism.” The exceptional holdings of Mexican art span from early Olmec sculptures to contemporary art installations. The collection, with almost a thousand works, covers more than three millennia of Mexican art history that include sculpture, prints, textiles, terracotta and gold. This summer, the bite-size tours for families will be available in Spanish.
Infórmate DFW: New York, Chicago and Washington, D.C., always put their museums, theaters and symphonies front and center as cultural landmarks to represent them. Do you think there is enough investment to promote the arts scene in Dallas?
Pedroche: We have great patrons who support the creation, presentation and acquisition of art, and we have visionary arts leaders in institutions that collaborate across disciplines. We need to mentor new generations of patrons, collectors and funders. Dallas institutions need to continue to co-host events and cross-promote activities to bring new audiences that represent the Dallas metropolitan community.
For upcoming exhibit information, visit www.dallasmuseumofart.org.