IL Major Wins Funding for Summer Art Project in the Dominican Republic

Thanks to the Visual and Performing Arts department, Crystal Rodriguez ’14 will spend part of her summer bringing art to life with school-aged youth in the Dominican Republic. Rodriguez, a double major in International Studies and Studio Art, received the Mary Louise Larrabee Prize to run a summer art project in the Dominican village of Corozo.

“Last summer in Corozo, the local community had no funding for summer programs,” Rodriguez wrote in her winning proposal. “Therefore I wanted to put my interdisciplinary skills, as a double major in International Studies and Studio Art, to develop a program that introduces timely issues while finding ways to creatively understand these subjects through expression.”

Crystal Rodriguez '14
Crystal Rodriguez ’14

Rodriguez plans to use her $1,500 grant to organize and run a one-month art program during July and August for youth in Corozo with the help of community partners. She plans to lead art activities that connect local youth with the environment and contemporary art in the Dominican Republic. Prof. Jo Yarrington, director of Studio Art, will serve as Rodriguez’s faculty mentor for the project.

In addition to her dual majors, Rodriguez also found inspiration from her Peace and Justice service learning experience in Bridgeport last semester. She learned the difference between helping and serving. “Service is done through our own wholeness, serving the wholeness of others,” Rodriguez wrote.

Rodriguez intends for this project to be the beginning of a sustained relationship with youth in Corozo. In the upcoming school year, she plans to coordinate with local leaders to set up Skype conversations between the youth and students in VPA courses at Fairfield. She hopes for the students in Corozo and Fairfield to share art work, and talk about college life. “This will create a continuous relationship of reciprocity.”

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