In celebration of Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art’s first ten years, we collaborated with our friends at Crystal Bridges to feature a few of the remarkable people contributing to the well-being of the Northwest Arkansas community.
Inspired by Norman Rockwell’s iconic painting Rosie the Riveter, which turns attention to the American women who worked in factories during World War II, these profiles feature individuals in our region who contribute in essential ways to the needs of our community. Each person highlighted works tirelessly, and often without fanfare, to spread hope and healing.
The portraits in this series will be on display in the Community Champions section of Crystal Bridges at 10, which will open to the public from July 11, 2021 to September 27, 2021. Crystal Bridges at 10 is an immersive exhibition with 10 distinct art experiences celebrating the museum’s collection and the local community one decade into the museum’s lifetime.
Q&A w/ Luis
Since you’ve been present in Northwest Arkansas, where are the places you have found community? What are some of the local places, past or present, you go to celebrate?
For sure, I feel welcome and found community at the Fayetteville and Bentonville farmers’ markets because I feel free, it helps me forget the challenges around the world. I like to celebrate in Springdale because it was the city that welcomed me when I came to the NWA and because I live there.
All of the artwork being featured in this exhibition traveled great distances before landing in Northwest Arkansas as part of the Crystal Bridges collection. What distances did you travel to arrive in Northwest Arkansas? When did you arrive? What about this place keeps you here?
I traveled from my beloved country Mexico to Pennsylvania, to California, back to Pennsylvania, and then finally NWA, which has become my home since June 30, 2009–12 years! People are very amicable here, there are job opportunities, I am told NWA as a region is less affected by some of the crises in the U.S. I have a better quality of life here, basic services such as water and power are often lacking in my former communities back in Latin America.
You are being recognized as part of this celebration, in part, because of the spirit of caring you bring to your interactions with others. To what and/or whom do you attribute the development of this spirit of caring to?
In general, people in NWA have good hearts and want to help others—I am no different.
Part of this project was about celebrating you in your role as a cadet, what led you to become a cadet? What do you enjoy most about this work?
When I joined Rockin’ Baker, I didn’t know how to bake anything. I found a safe place to learn new skills, interact with other people, and teach other cadet bakers new skills.
One of the things I like the most about being here is our celebrations when someone is graduating from our program, or when it’s someone’s birthday. We have so much fun eating and making jokes. I also like teaching other cadets new things! And I enjoy supporting Daymara (the founder of Rockin’ Baker) in whatever she needs because she is such a special person. Despite the challenging situations facing her home country (Venezuela), she keeps a positive spirit. So I always try to make her happy so she sees progress in our bakery.
Seeds that Feed inspires me because of their hard work to reduce waste and help others have food on their tables, to support farmers as much as possible in moving unsold produce. Daymara inspires me to keep fighting, never give up during challenging times, and look forward to what the future brings.
Issues of food insecurity.
In January 2013, I became a U.S. citizen. I feel like I became a different person, even though I still miss my homeland. Today, I am American with my heart in Mexico.
Taqueria Alex, La Hacienda, and of course Rockin’ Baker bread that I make!
Michael Jackson’s “Beat It”
Finally, Crystal Bridges at 10 was designed to both mark the museum’s first 10 years and set the precedent for the decade to come. Looking out into the future, what do you hope for our region and community?
I hope we become one of the most prosperous regions in the U.S. and the world!
Please list a few things people should know about or do in Northwest Arkansas:
Crystal Bridges in Bentonville
Walmart Museum on the Bentonville Square
Dickson Street in Fayetteville
Jones Center in Springdale