Marina Mendez Cruz

Country: Costa Rica

Title:  The Romance of the Horses

Medium: Acrylic on watercolor paper

Size: 27" x 19"

The World's Women On-Line!

Cruz is one of six members of Corazones Valientes (Valiant Hearts), a women's folk-art cooperative from Costa Rica. All of the women live in La Unión de Monterrey, a small agricultural village in the north-central part of the country. They develop their own designs and paint them with acrylic and watercolor on paper and on hand-carved cedar trays. The group started as a drawing class in May 1991 when Rebecca Hart, a Peace Corps volunteer, responded to requests from the women to teach them how to draw. The goal of the course was to engage the world around them through their art. They began by drawing familiar things in their lives-- their bedrooms, kitchens, houses, families. Then they worked on composition, learning to combine their simple, separate drawings to make more complex works. After five months they began painting and incorporating color. By January 1992, they were selling paintings to various galleries in San José, Costa Rica. The art they create deals with their everyday lives, traditions, customs, work, recreation, history, myths, and dreams. The women of Corazones Valientes are now part of a movement of Costa Ricans to recognize the uniqueness of their country and preserve it through developing their own expression.

In her mid-thirties, Marina is married and has five children. She is active in the Catholic church and has a husband that encourages her to work in the community. Since the beginning of the project, he has been the most supportive of all the husbands. Rather than painting many pictures, Marina concentrates on a few. Her works are characterized by peaceful farm scenes with the family. Marina's paintings demonstrate her serenity, her good cheer, and her commitment to high craftsmanship. She continues on in her painting endeavors although confronted by health problems, long distance from center of town, and lack of electricity.

Corazones Valientes' selected exhibitions include: La Mama La Galeria, New York, 1999; St. John the Divine, New York, 1998; Elsa Mott Gallery: YWCA, New York, 1998; Right Brain Gallery, Atlanta Georgia, 1998; Folk Fest '97, Atlanta, 1997; Casa de la Cultural Popular José Figueres, Costa Rica, 1997; Centro Cultural Managua, Managua, Nicaragua, 1996; Schattam Gallery, Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia, 1996; Casa Cultural Julia de Burgos, Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut, 1995; Unity Church Art Gallery, St. Paul, Minnesota, 1994; Maya's Room in Silliman College, Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut, 1994; First Congregational Church, Minneapolis, Minnesota, 1993; Northfield Arts Guild, Northfield, Minnesota, 1993; Anne Harper Gallery, Amagansett, New York, 1993; Festival of Nations, St. Paul Civic Center, St. Paul, Minnesota, 1993; Janet Wallace Gallery, Macalester College, St. Paul, Minnesota, 1993; and Costa Rican Independence Day Special Celebration, Ordway Theater, St. Paul, Minnesota, 1992.
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