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MexArt: Summer Teen Intensives

By Patty Arrieta

For those of you familiar with San Miguel, you may have heard the name of Carly Cross or Casa Carly. Originally from the greater Philly area but having lived in Montreal, Maine and Northern Virginia, Carly moved to San Miguel in 2001 after founding MexArt, the only program of its kind for teens in Mexico. In 2003, Carly purchased land in San Miguel and in 4 months constructed Casa Carly, the now-permanent home of MexArt. The MexArt Summer Institute is made up of one-month programs where students focus on art or dance and Spanish language. MexArt excels in teaching the visual arts and dance while providing a cultural experience. Most participants travel here from the United States or Canada, although past students have also hailed from Mexico and other countries. Participants choose one area in which to focus their training and other areas with which to experiment. Student talent varies in ability from having an interest to having years of experience and all levels are welcome.

MexArt performan
Fri, Jul 27, 5:30pm
El Sindicato
Recreo 4

For students wanting to become global citizens, MexArt is the perfect first step. Professional artists, dancers and Spanish faculty are talented and enthusiastic teachers. I have been fortunate to be a part of the inspired faculty at MexArt for seven years now. I first met Carly in 2006 and have since been traveling to San Miguel from New York City to teach dance. Each year has brought me much joy and many memorable experiences. I enjoy teaching in a professional setting, helping to create a challenging and dynamic class environment where students can immerse themselves in their skills and artistry. This year I am excited to be working with another talented group of dancers between the ages of 15 and 21.

MexArt participants have also had the pleasure of working with some of San Miguel’s most notable dance teachers in areas of specialty training. Arabian Dance with Julieta Sanchez, Authentic Movement with Ximena Velasco, Social Dancing with Christie Olvera and the crew at Arthur Murray (Ramon, Tara and David), Breaking with Ricardo “Rica” Arellano, and African Dance with Jennifer Hofmann. This year students also gave aerial work a try with Nisha Ferguson of Gravityworks. In addition the MexArt dancers have been teaching a free community service class, twice a week, to kids living in San Miguel. We are excited to present our student show Friday, July 27, at El Sindicato, in culmination of our month’s work. Some special guests will be taking the stage including the MexArt dancers and MexArt kids of San Miguel!

Another exciting aspect of MexArt is the visual arts program. Students choose from painting, drawing, ceramics, photography, metal work, jewelry making and community service. At least 75 percent of these teachers have been teaching with MexArt since its opening summer in 2001. This year’s participants have worked alongside Shannon Reece, who has taught every summer since MexArt was founded. Shannon concentrates on photography and printmaking, with many one-woman shows and significant awards for her work. Another 2012 instructor is Oscar Martinez Heredia, painting and drawing. His work is currently being exhibited at OMO gallery, in the Fabrica Aurora.

Paco works with students in silver jewelry. Born and raised in San Miguel, Paco learned jewelry making from his father. With Paco’s patient guidance and input students produce professional looking jewelry with their own creative touches. Jose Juan Palacio is another San Miguel native that teaches ironwork. He learned his trade by working in a metal workshop with his family and now has his own shop. Joan Elena is the pottery teacher for MexArt. She specializes in hand building, wheel throwing and unique decoration techniques. Rocio and Enrique Prado round out the teaching staff, serving as the Spanish teachers.

The MexArt staff is compiled of outstanding professionals including camp counselor Marti MacInnes, a middle school teacher from San Fransisco, CA. Casa Carly’s staff help create a comfortable home environment for campers with Juana Hernandez as the resident chef.

The 2012 Art students will be presenting their work along side the MexArt Dancers in a combined show. Please join us for an art preview before the dance performance begins. For more information on MexArt, please visit the website at

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