Latino art museum to be honored by Michelle Obama for youth development program

AUSTIN, TEXAS (KTBC) – For more than two decades, the Mexic-Arte Museum in Downtown Austin has proudly displayed years of Latino art, culture and history. But it also has been providing a service to thousands of students across the city.

"Screen It! is a program that teaches screen printing to students of various ages, usually 10 to 17, and the purpose of the program is to bring this new art technique into their classroom." Olivia Tamzarian, an education coordinator for Mexic-Arte Museum, said. "What a lot of people don't realize is, this art form has a strong tie to the Latino community, so screen printing is a way of spreading a message."

Students like Kassey Rocha, who has been in the Screen It! program for almost three years, have learned how to share that message artistically on T-shirts, hats, and other everyday items.

"Me growing up loving art, I felt like I couldn't do anything with it. It was just a hobby for me. And when I joined the Screen It! program it taught me that I could make something out of my art. I can print T-shirts with my own art and make a career out of it," Rocha said.

Tamzarian said Screen It! has been such a success that on Nov. 15, first lady Michelle Obama will present the museum with the nation's highest honor for creative youth development programs.

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"It's such an honor for us. This is  a program that we really have poured our heart and soul into. It's tied to the Serie Project which was founded by Sam Coronado, co-founder of Mexic-Arte Museum, and he passed away a few years ago. So it's a way [of] continuing his legacy of engaging the Latino community," Tamzarian said.

An honor that Rocha hopes will inspire the next generation of Austin artists.

"I'm hoping that it will attract a lot more students to embrace their passions, if they love art." Rocha said, "I'm hoping that it can teach other students like myself, that art is a possibility if they want to follow it as a career."

Along with the award, the program will also receive $10,000. For more information about Screen It!, go to the museum's website at mexic-artemuseum.org.

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