Artist Héctor Duarte visits RMHS’ Spanish class

RMHS’s Native speaking Spanish class learns about art and culture

On Jan. 6 and 12, RMHS teacher Heidi Huck’s 5th and 8th block Spanish Native Speaker Level 2 classes were able to have artist Héctor Duarte in their zoom class to introduce them to his works and to help them see their cultural and social identities through an artistic lens. This experience was made possible through generous D214 Arts Unlimited and RMHS TPC Grants.

Duarte is originally from Michoacán, Mexico where he also studied mural painting but moved to Chicago in 1985. He has designed more than 45 murals in Mexico and throughout the United States, most of which are either on a building or a different piece of architecture. Not only did he share with students some of his artworks, but he also shared with them some of his life experiences. 

For this presentation, students were supplied with different art supplies, like oil pastels and sketchbooks, in order to make art of their own. They were able to draw shapes and shade them in different ways, as Duarte had shown them. Students also wrote their names in a rectangle shape. It sounds easier said than done, so Duarte showed them how to space the letters in their name by creating sections of the rectangle for the letters. They then colored in and decorated each letter with different colors however they would like, so they got to express their creativity. 

Duarte also expressed to the class how art is a form of language. In his murals, he uses themes of freedom, identity and immigration.

“I met him at his studio a year ago and was drawn to his use of butterflies in his murals, both painted and mosaic,” Huck said. “He explained that they represent all immigrants that come to the United States in search of a better life, some never to return.”

Not only did students get to create artwork, but they also got to share them with Duarte himself, so he was able to see their artwork and give them compliments and advice. One unique fact they were able to find out about his artwork was that there are four basic shapes that are the basis of all of his murals, like rectangles, cubes, circles and triangles. The students were able to create these and share them with the class. 

Duarte was also able to give advice to the students and share some of his thoughts. He is able to speak both English and Spanish, although he prefers to speak in Spanish. Mr. Duarte explained to students, “Speaking two languages is being part of two cultures and being worth two lives.” During class, the students also got to ask him questions about his art and even about his life to get to know more about him as a person and an artist.