The building that for decades housed the district’s alternative education program is now the hub of EPISD’s innovative visual arts program.
The District this week officially opened the EPISD Art Space and Gallery in the building that previously housed the Raymond Telles Academy on the 300 block of South Campbell Street in Downtown El Paso.
The gallery and performance space officially opened Wednesday with its debut of the El Paso Strong exhibit featuring more than 200 visual art pieces capturing students’ sentiment and emotion from the Aug. 3 attacks on El Paso.
“This art show evokes a lot of emotion,” said Phillip Barraza, fine arts director. “It’s all about El Paso Strong and seeing how our students throughout the district have viewed the event. Each and every one of the pieces speak to you and you have a whole different interpretation of how our students are internalizing the events and how they’re expressing how they feel because of it.
The new Art Space will showcase student work and has space for workshops for visual arts teachers. The space was made available after the alternative school moved to the former Houston Elementary School. The space is almost unrecognizable as the former Telles Academy lending itself more to the look of a gallery.
“What was once an alternative school is now this beautiful art gallery that has a good vibe that evokes good emotions in a judgment-free area where everyone is free to express himself,” Barraza said.
District fine arts teachers also are excited about EPISD having its very own gallery.
“It will be bringing a wide range of possibilities for our students and for us teachers,” said Chapin High teacher Ana Valdez. “It is very inspiring to have a place to showcase all forms of art from drawing, illustration, photography, painting, sculpture and installation. The district gallery will bring a wide range of opportunities for events to help our young artist and teachers to promote the visual arts.”
Coronado High teacher Hugo Nuñez agrees.
“I think it’s a really good initiative to have the art gallery for the community,” he said. “It shows us that the teachers have the support and we can give it to our students so that they can display their work.”
The opening gave students an opportunity to share their work with the families and the community. Artist Vanessa Fleming-Zeledon, an Hornedo Middle seventh-grader, walked through the gallery impressed by the work of her peers.
“I honestly think it’s an honor to have your work here because people get to see it,” she said. “I am impressed by how different grades represent the El Paso community. We’re very strong. It’s just perfect.”
The exhibit will be open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. through Oct. 31.