The Mexican Cultural Institute and the National Endowment for the Arts is pleased to be honoring Manuel Cuevas and Ofelia Esparza, two artists of Mexican heritage recipients of the 2018 NEA National Heritage Fellowship.
Born in 1933, Manuel Cuevas gained popularity sewing prom dresses in his hometown of Michoacán at the young age of 14. His talents later took him to Hollywood, where he began working with influential designers and artists, ranging from Nathan Turk to Elvis Presley. His focus was primarily in rhinestone-adorned and embroidered suits distinguished by their country and western style, a genre whose multi-ethnic origins Cuevas witnessed both in Mexico and the United States. Manuel Cuevas continues to work diligently in his designs today, his designs are displayed at the Country Music Hall of Fame and has been recognized by the Country Music Association and Cody High Style.
Ofelia Esparza is a Mexican-American Chicana altarista, or altar maker, whose work pays homage and evokes memory of people, event or places through the use of photos, traditional foods, flowers and handmade and found adornments. Esparza was born in East Los Angeles, where her upbringing in Chicano communities influenced her love for traditions and activities surrounding Día de los Muertos. As an elementary school teacher for 30 years, Esparza infused her curriculum with Mexican art and culture, introducing the importance of cultural practices to her students. Still, she continues to teach workshops in the Building Healthy Communities Boyle Heights initiative and at the State Correctional Institution for Women and has exhibited her work at the National Museum of Mexican Art and the Los Angeles County Museum of art, among others.
Join us here at The Mexican Cultural Institute on Thursday, September 27th in conversation with Eduardo Diaz, Director of the Smithsonian Latino Center, as we celebrate the work of Manuel Cuevas and Ofelia Esparza.