Artists from Guatemala traveled more than a thousand miles to raise money to educate the youth in their country while reducing illegal immigration to the United States.
A couple of Guatemalan artist organizations, Colectivo Cinceles and Guatemala is Guatemala, exhibited their artwork to the first time in the U.S. at The Box Gallery in West Palm Beach, all at their own expense. Their mission: sell their art to raise funds for Ak’Tenamit, a vocational school in eastern Guatemala focused on preparing students for the workforce.
“This is something we feel is a tremendous answer to the immigration crisis,” Ak’Tenamit founder Steve Dudenhoefer said. “No kid wants to choose between never seeing their family again but maybe getting a good education and eventually a job, if they can make it alive across the desert, or staying with their family locked in a life of poverty.”
Together with the Guatemalan Tomorrow Fund, they’re celebrating 25 years of service for rural indigenous communities. According to Dudenhoefer, most children don’t receive education past the sixth grade, so they focus on breaking the barriers that keep the poor from receiving education and connecting their program’s graduates with potential employers.
“People in the U.S. tend to know only certain aspects of Guatemala and we wanted to introduce them to its diversity of skills,” he said.
“When people think of Guatemalan art they think of indigenous folk art, but it’s important to demonstrate that our artists dwell in other high-quality techniques,” Guatemala is Guatemala founder Brenda Estrada said.
Both organizations make it their mission to expose its artists to different countries across the world so they can achieve international success.
According to The Box Gallery owner Rolando Chang Barrero, this is a way to introduce Latinos to the fine-art world and at the same time introduce the community to the great work Ak’Tenamit is doing in Guatemala.
People from all over the county turned out for the event along with Mayor Jeri Muoio, Mario Azmitia from Lake Worth’s Guatemalan Consulate and Alex Garcia, who’s running for a seat in the Palm Beach County Commission.
More than 30 paintings were sold to benefit the cause and others donated to the organization by sponsoring a student.
“For a dollar a day they can make the difference between a 14-year-old girl going through a forced marriage and having her first kid while living locked into a life of poverty forever, or that girl being able to continue education, go through high school, get a job and little by little go onto college to be a professional,” Dudenhoefer said.
Carla Trivino is a Mundo Hispánico reporter working out of The Palm Beach Post. For the latest news from Mundo Hispánico click here and to see what’s going on in the county follow me on Twitter and Instagram.