WHITEWATER — The University of Wisconsin- Whitewater’s Department of Art and Design with support from the Visiting Artists Fund, welcomes Cruz Enrique Espana, an internationally acclaimed folk artist to campus.

Espana will give a free public lecture on Tuesday, March 10, from 3:15 to 4:45 p.m. in the Greenhill Center of the Arts Ceramics Area Room 1037.

The public is invited to attend.

Espana (born 1950) is an internationally acclaimed folk artist from Antigua, Guatemala. He is the eldest of 10 children whose father was the Antiguan potter Jose Guillermo Espana.

Enrique began working in his father’s ceramic factory as a child, and though the expectation was that someday he would take over his father’s business, Enrique dreamt of being an artist in his own right.

Upon marrying his wife, Enrique broke from his father’s business, opened his own factory and began to make one-of-a-kind ceramic sculpture. His community was in disbelief, for clay was not considered an artistic medium.

But Enrique’s work sold, and soon he was invited to participate in folk art exhibitions within Guatemala and abroad. He was invited to travel to Mexico, then Cost Rica and eventually the United States. More invitations followed from Germany, Taiwan and Italy.

Enrique again visited and taught in the U.S. He continued traveling, exhibiting and teaching for the span of his career, and after more than 60 years of working with clay, he still is a highly prolific and internationally recognized artist.

His visionary art work and widespread international attention has enabled Cruz Enrique Epana to become the pride of Antiguan ceramics.

Of particular note is that Enrique identifies, first and foremost, as a teacher.

He loves learning, and mentors learners of all ages as they find their way with clay. He has been doing so for as long as he has been working within the medium.

Currently, Espana has taken on the responsibility of mentoring 15 women from Fuego, Guatemala, a town that was devastated in June 2018 by the eruption of Volcan de Fuego. Many of the women in this group lost their homes or were widowed during the natural disaster.

The goal of Enrique’s mentorship is to enable the women to establish a ceramics cooperative so that they can replace the significant loss of security they have endured during the past 18 months.

The UW-Whitewater Artstudio 251 (Ceramics I) classes, along with the Ceramics Guild, ENACTUS, the College of Business, and the Department of Languages and Literature are partnering in a community-based learning project with Espana, LaUnion Spanish School Entrepreneurship Program (Antigua, Guatemala), and the 15 women from Fuego, Guatemala, in order to realize this goal, and is a part of a greater alliance among these groups that has been named the Quetzal Collaborative.

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