Artistic inspiration and the art of giving back
Recently honored as a modern civil rights advocate, a faculty member continues to advance the art of ideas.
November 28, 2016
MSU Denver Associate Professor Carlos Fresquez has spent more than half of his life on the Auraria campus – first as a student, and now as a faculty member at the school where he graduated from. As such, he finds continual inspiration from the community around him – be that cultural connections he has to his Native American and Mexican-American heritage to the changing neighborhoods of Denver and the internal lens of spirituality.
Drawing on Buddhist teachings, he strives to learn each day from his students, without whom he says there is no success. “I tell my students to paint their truth,” says Fresquez. “Whatever you do, you need to do it truthfully and honestly. It’s important not to deny or hide who you are.”
Honored at the recent 25th Civil Rights Awards ceremony sponsored by the NEWSED Community Development Corporation, Fresquez expressed appreciation and remains focused on the work that art brings to a community.
“I’m totally humbled by the award – I didn’t expect it at all,” says Fresquez. “We just do what we do because that’s what’s needed in our lives.”
Fresquez currently is featured in the Center for Visual Arts biennial Collective Nouns: MSU Denver Art Faculty Exhibition. One of his works is an appropriation of the Converse Chuck Taylor All-Star brand, replacing the text with “Chicanos” and “Avanzan” circumscribed within the iconic logo, flanked by the words “Run Strong.” At more than 8 feet tall and painted directly onto the gallery wall to recall the ubiquity of billboard messaging, Fresquez says the piece is a sociopolitical call to both move forward together and to see art everywhere, every day.
For more than 25 years, Fresquez has been an advocate for finding truth through art. And as both teacher and learner, he continues to empower students to create their own visual expressions.
“An idea cannot be destroyed,” said Fresquez. “Art is a voice for ideas, and it’s important to share that voice.”