Mexican student shares heritage Artwork: Jorge del Villar wants others at Western Maryland College to enjoy and understand his nation's culture and history.


Jorge del Villar will share his Mexican heritage with students at Western Maryland College this month with an art exhibit and a day-late celebration of the Day of the Dead.

Del Villar, a junior international student, will raise an altar tomorrow in memory of Mexican hero Emiliano Zapata, who fought for social justice during the Mexican Revolution.

The art exhibit will feature colorfully painted wood-carved figures called alebrijes. Del Villar owns the collection -- the art originated in Oaxaca, a state near Chiapas in southeastern Mexico, one of the nation's poorest regions.

Its artwork "exhibits a rich expression of spirituality, liveliness and imagination," said del Villar, 21. The works depict imaginary characters and uncover the Mexican fusion of reality and fantasy, he said.

"I wanted to show the community some of the traditions of my country here on campus," said del Villar of Mexico City, who organized the exhibit to earn academic credit.

The exhibit is the first of its kind at the college, said Julie O. Badiee, an art history professor at WMC. She also noted that an altar to the dead has never been displayed before.

"This is unique, definitely unique," she said.

Mexicans celebrate the Day of the Dead on Nov. 2. This tradition helps people remember loved ones who have passed away. On this day, a typical family sets up an altar in honor of a deceased family member.

Del Villar is raising an altar in memory of Zapata, who lived from 1879 to 1919.

Mexico's Zapatista rebels, who also hail from Chiapas and rebelled against their government in January 1994, follow Zapata's revolutionary teachings.

This altar will include a picture of Zapata and some food offerings such as beans and rice, he said. Following tradition, it will be on display for one day, del Villar said.

An opening reception will be held at 7 p.m. tomorrow in Peterson Hall. The artwork will be on display through Jan. 30. Information: 410-857-2599.

Pub Date: 11/02/97

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