Edgar Reyes ’14 (Community Arts M.F.A.) was born in Guadalajara, Mexico, and immigrated to the United States with his mother as a child. Since earning his M.F.A. from MICA, the multimedia artist has since been intimately involved in youth-driven, arts-based leadership initiatives that promote cross-cultural understanding.
Reyes’s art reflects his personal experience as an undocumented youth and highlights the beauty of being Mexican-American. Like many Chicano artists, he challenges social norms to raise awareness of what it means to be Latinx.
“For me, art is political. It has the power to resist and challenge oppressive systemic patterns. It is a platform to engage people in conversations about social issues while empowering them to be creative change agents,” Reyes says. To him, art can be a powerful vehicle and artists can play significant roles in creating work to reflect their communities’ struggle for civil rights. That is what Reyes is doing for Light City 2017 through “Sueños” (“Dreams”), a piece he has developed with Latinx youth in Baltimore City and Langley Park.
“Sueños” is about the Latinx community’s shared experiences, their desire to live free of discrimination, and their dreams for a better tomorrow. It celebrates the lives of those who have died crossing the U.S.-Mexico border, La Frontera, in particular the hundreds of women who are raped, kidnapped and/or murdered each year trying to achieve their sueño.
“Sueños” also highlights the community’s complex racial make-up of Native, African and European people. “Our history and the significant role we have played in the development of the modern world tends to be overlooked. Brown and Black people have been a part of the U.S. since its birth, but social norms and stereotypes have driven white-centric ideals that often diminish our reality,” Reyes shares.
Light City has been an exceptional platform for artists to reach a wide audience. With potentially 400,000 visitors over the week-long festival, Reyes wishes for his work to increase public awareness of the Latinx community’s struggles at large and their fight for social justice. “I hope ‘Sueños’ will engage Baltimore in conversations about solidarity. In the current political climate, this topic could not be more relevant.”