I was startled by the invitation identifying me as a “Hispanic Star,” at the Midwest Regional Hispanic Leadership Summit 2022, to an audience of Hispanic leaders from across the country gathered at the Global Headquarters of 3M Corporation. With exuberant moderator and 3M’s Strategy Director Country Governance and Services Marlene Lopez Ibarra, I spoke on the political and cultural influence of art and what it represents to the Hispanic community.
Unleashing that part of my mind from my youth when the world was truly wonderful and, in a purely philosophical vein, I realize that a star exists in three forms. A sun, radiating energy, a planet or other celestial body reflecting the light of the sun, and a comet streaking across the sky. Of course, this is a way to complicate a very simple thing. My goal has always been: How to engage an audience to see themselves as stars.
Through a metaphorical lens, the concrete object: the art piece, is a reflection of the energy of the artist. And like a celestial body in the expanse of the universe, it is only visible if it is hit by the light of a sun. Much of what I do is a satellite of the energy I exert. And so, the arts have an aspect of nourishing the souls of us – nosotros – with the energy that is reflected off our social endeavors. And here is my indigenous sense of humor – the sun can’t see its own light – it is too busy radiating.
When I make an object, perforce, I have to accept its independence from me. As a Hispanic artist, I am, by design, casting out energy towards the Hispanic universe. I do, however, strive to be responsible in shaping that energy. The purpose of my work is to illuminate our identity. It is when we know ourselves that we can come together and move into our own future. To physically articulate my talk, I proposed an activity to the Summit organizers that would generate a communal object. It engaged all of the participants who contributed their own energy in producing the elements that went into creating a bouquet of leadership. The beauty of the process was that it employed leaders who embraced a cooperative leadership activity.
These people who sat down together around a table to share a meal were invited to participate in the creation of the elements for the final piece, which, parallel to its reality, had to be accomplished quickly, as if it were perishable. With their contributions, the image was created by me, at the back of the room while the summit continued.
I was deeply honored in being recognized as the appropriate person to deliver the closing grito of the summit. “Si se puede.”
The finished piece is remarkable in that it is a collaborative work of art, with Hispanic leaders and the Hispanic Star, and visually it is a metaphor of the summit. A coming together of the blooming of leadership and it is a snapshot because the universe continues, and leadership is like a flower. Once you cut it, it begins to fade.
I am excited this piece, “Hispanic Leadership Bouquet,” will be the shining star in the home of a 3M leader.