"Where We Were"
Liliana Benitez is a freshman at Huston-Tillotson, double-majoring in music education and biology.
"I have created a visual timeline from the Harlem Renaissance to modern times. Every color has a connection to the people represented within. Musicians are in beautiful blue tones to represent the strong roots of blues and jazz they created for us. The activists, actors, and scholars are all in a warm grey with a bright background to symbolize the work both on stage, on paper, and on the streets. The last panel is in full color displaying our present day. I used yellow as the standout color in the panel to symbolize the joy and happiness we gained moving through hardship. I presented the most recent and most powerful scenes from protests that faced us in 2020-2023 to remind people that we are still fighting. I have chosen people from our very own HT campus that display the same messages the scholars and artists once did before them: our very own English professor, Jennine Kruger, for her loud voice and strong character, who fights to learn more and spread power to those who cannot come up with their own through her slam poetry. To the far right you have the headstrong Miss UNCF to represent our strong leaders.
"I took inspiration from the street art in East Austin, TX as well as the walls and ceilings of the Jefferson Building, where the walls, ceilings, and floors are adorned in beautiful intricate mosaic work. On the east side are mosaic pieces representing women, children, and the artists before us. I wanted to bring the two together and modernize it to paint a brighter picture of past and present.
"Going to DC and seeing everything up-close and personal made me realize just how big of an impact this program would have on my life. For a moment at 19 years old, I was an artist and a researcher for the Library of Congress! It left me wanting to do bigger and brighter things. I felt important and it gave me back my sense of self after all the hard trials. There were times where I would lose motivation completely. The biggest struggle for me was during the beginning of the work. It was originally to be displayed as a mosaic mural piece, but I had to turn it into a digital media piece and start over again.
"The biggest victory was that in the end after all hardship I fell in love with my pieces. There was no greater victory than sitting there and smiling at my work as it was printed off and completed...I would do this over and over again a million times over just to experience this feeling. I'm proud of the work I accomplished."