'En Mi Familia' exhibit opens

An interactive exhibit showcasing South Texas culture through the artwork of famed Chicana artist Carmen Lomas Garza will be on permanent display at Texas A&M University-Kingsville’s Conner Museum beginning next Friday evening, with a VIP event featuring food, live music and a walk through with the artist herself.

“It’s going to be a big, big night,” Conner Museum Director Jonathan Plant said. “We’re really excited to have this exhibit.”

Garza was born in Kingsville and is an alumna of Texas A&I University, and her art portrays everyday lives of Mexican-American families living in South Texas based on her own memories and experiences.

“She paints scenes from her childhood, and (her paintings) encourage people to think about their own stories and traditions,” Plant said.

Originally a traveling exhibit before it was refurbished and made a permanent display at the Thinkery in Austin, “En Mi Familia” is an interactive experience that allows patrons to step inside four of Garza’s paintings through multi-sensory displays that depict the sights, sounds, smells and feel of Hispanic home life.

“The exhibit is very focused on themes of family and heritage,” Plant said. “And it’s designed as an immersive experience where you step inside her paintings and interact with the different elements inside.

“For example, when you’re in the kitchen, you can turn the stove on, you can smell the chocolate and the cumin, and you can roll up some tamales.”

Plant said he had been working to bring “En Mi Familia” to the Conner Museum as a permanent exhibit since 2016.

“So it’s been a long process,” Plant said. “We had a grant from the Brookshire Foundation that allowed us to purchase this exhibit. This is the best place for it. This is (Garza’s) hometown, and this is where it should be.”

On Friday, Sept. 13, the museum will host a special “sneak preview” VIP fundraiser event that will give attendees an even more interactive experience of the new exhibit.

“Garza will be here to give a walk-through of the exhibit,” Plant said.

The VIP event will feature cultural demonstrations, such as how to make pan de polvo, as well as food, drinks and live Mariachi music.

In addition, the Friends of the Conner Museum organization is selling raffle tickets for prizes that include prints of some of Garza’s artwork.

“They will also be auctioning off a couple of prints on canvas,” Plant said.

The “En Mi Familia” VIP Grand Opening event will be held Friday, Sept. 13, from 5:30-7:30 p.m. at TAMUK’s John E. Conner Museum, located at 905 W. Santa Gertrudis Ave. in Kingsville.

Tickets for the VIP event are $50 per person and can be purchased online at www.javelinagiving.org/enmifamilia. Proceeds will benefit the Conner Museum.

The exhibit will open to the general public free-of-charge beginning on Saturday, Sept. 14.

The Conner Museum is open 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday through Friday, and Saturdays from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. For more information, call (361) 593-2810.

Anthony Ruiz can be contacted at aruiz@king-ranch.com or (361) 221-0251.

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