Latino Heritage Month: Treasures from the Earth

Curator: Jonette O’Kelley Miller

Latino Heritage Month is formally celebrated starting on September 15 and lasting until October 15. This is because September 15 is the recognized independence day of several Latin American countries: Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua. The following day, September 16 and 18 marks Mexico's and Chile's independence days, respectively; and, in closing out the 30-day period before October 15, the Dia de la Raza is celebrated on October 12.

"Treasures from the Earth" highlights the art of four contemporary Mexican sculptors: Gloria Carrasco, Isadora Cuéllar, Maribel Portela and Paloma Torres. With their hands their work reveals their respect for the environment and nature while also providing their commentary on societal issues.

To view the exhibition please scroll down and click the button to view their work.

Treasures from the Earth

Latino Heritage Month recognizes the extensive contributions and varied cultures found in the countries of Latin America. Unique culturalisms birthed by the intermingling of Spanish, African and Indigenous influences flow through each country’s nuanced “usos y costumbres” (customs and traditions) as seen in their music, food, linguistic tones, and ways of life.  For this virtual exhibition, we shine the spotlight on four contemporary sculptors from our southern neighbor, Mexico.

Prior to the unjust ending of the Mexican American War in 1848, Mexico comprised California, Nevada, Utah, New Mexico, the majority of Arizona and Colorado, and sections of Oklahoma, Kansas, and Wyoming. In this country’s current socio-political environment, featuring the stunning works of Gloria Corrasco, Isadora Cuéllar, Maribel Portela and Paloma Torres is critical in counteracting antagonistic narratives. Corrasco, Cuellar, Portela and Torres share a passionate love and respect for the land and environment. They hone in on the diversity of Mexico’s landscapes and geography, and also expose man’s intrusions. Each, in her own way, is sensitive to the social spaces that both connect and disconnect people.  

The creative visions of these artists who are also designers, researchers, and scholars inspire them to work in a variety of media. They are all internationally known and share a preference for manually shaping clay. However, their individual approaches are grounded in several influences, including architecture, indigenous culture, along with the push-pull found between fine and utilitarian art.

The relevance of their work moves us beyond the idea of taking ferra firma for granted as something we own or simply stand on. Gloria Corrasco, Isadora Cuéllar, Maribel Portela and Paloma Torres honor the earth with their hands as well as honoring Mexico’s strength and beauty.


Cultural Atlas, “Mexican Culture.” Accessed 7/22/2022

Meier, Matt S. and Feliciano Ribera, Mexican Americans/American Mexicans: From Conquistadors to Chicanos. (New York: Hill & Wang 1993) 4.

National Archives, “The Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo.” Accessed 8/2/2022

Steinberg, Stephen, The Ethnic Myth: Race, Ethnicity and Class in America. (Boston, MA: Beacon Press 1989) 21-24, 299-300.

Jonette O’Kelley Miller

Jonette O’Kelley Miller, Curator, Art Historian

Treasures From the Earth is the third project Jonette has presented with STIE. Previous projects were Truth-Telling: Voices of First People and19th Century Stereotypes vs. 19th Century Reality. Her essay, “A Primer on Visual Racism” can be seen on 24 Views - What They Call Us.  ‍

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Studio Theater In Exile
Our mission is to work with playwrights from inception to production to bring their voices to the fore. We also work with visual artists, storytellers, musicians, poets and writers to integrate theater/performance with other genres. Our goal is to create dialogue - with audiences, between creators, and bring forth the lesser known artists in our community.