Islander Graphic Design Student tell Tales of Harvey, Tales of Healing

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas – “Art is the expression of our humanity, and it’s something different to each one of us. I think in this case, art is a way to process everything,” said Marcela Vasquez, an Islander graphic design student. “We are even stronger now. We faced this tragedy the best way we could and looking back allows us to realize how strong we are.”

For many residents of the Coastal Bend, the reality of Hurricane Harvey still impacts daily life. Even a year later, the remains of buildings and landscape that shaped the area remind its residents of the catastrophe that took place. After the storm, local citizens came together in all ways, shapes and forms to help rebuild families and lives. Inspired by that infectious comradery of “neighbors helping neighbors,” more than 150 local students, including a collective of graphic design majors from Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi, were moved to create artwork reflecting that spirit.

The showcase, “A Day of Remembrance, Hurricane Harvey: Narrative Artwork,” debuted at the La Retama Central Library on Aug. 11 and will be on display through Sept. 1. It includes sketches, debris, glass, molds, paints, prints, drawings, photography, personal testimonies, and poetry. Although artistic methods vary, the sentiment behind the exhibition shares a central theme: Texas Strong.

Antelmo Aguirre, an Islander graphic design student, created a series of portraits exemplifying the various industrial regions of Texas.

“I wanted to express the hardworking, unflinching nature of Texans, their unending resolve, and their courage,” said Aguirre. “I wanted to express a range of Texan lifestyles and backgrounds to show that this is a trait of all Texans.”

Ruth Maldonado, another Islander graphic design student, shared her unique perception on her piece “Comin’ in Clutch City” and the intense insight behind its beginnings. At first, glance the hues of blue and orange paired with a classic cityscape and traditional truck resembles the subtle nostalgia of Texan summer nights. But as Maldonado explains, its purpose is to pay tribute to the citizens that risked their safety for their neighbors.

“It was the first responders and neighborhood folks getting out there and being compassionate. I wanted to share my gratitude to those who went out and helped people, including my own family,” Maldonado said. “I’ve learned that humanity still has compassion. That when it comes down to it people can have kindness for others despite our differences.”

Nancy Miller, Texas A&M-Corpus Christi graphic design program coordinator and assistant professor, showed four commemorative posters alongside her student designers.

“The perspective and reflection portrayed by our students in the collective body of work is diverse and powerful,” said Miller. “This particular group of students has an appreciation for social consciousness in design and a dedication to community contribution through their talents in this show and in many other community projects. Our program is grateful to the CC Libraries and to Dr. Laurie Turner for the opportunity to collaborate on the commemoration of one of the most significant events in Coastal Bend history.”

A picture is worth a thousand words, but for a few artists among the Island University, a picture means healing, gratitude and the perseverance of southern hospitality against all odds.