Educating Through Art: Local Tucson Artists
Start writing a post
Politics and Activism

Educating Through Art: Local Tucson Artists

The story of how a local Tucson couple turned art into education.

18
Educating Through Art: Local Tucson Artists
Rose Hattab

Born and raised in South Tucson, Grace Beltran grew up in a traditional, Mexican household. While her father did not expect her to finish school past the age of 15, having been raised by her grandmother, she was encouraged to be educated and keep moving forward. Grace earned a scholarship to the University of Arizona, but did not last there for long before she was forced to transfer to Pima Community College. She tells a story of an English instructor she had her freshman year in college who refused to have Grace and another Mexican boy in his class because, as the man claimed, he did not “teach their kind.” Grace did not let the matter go quietly, and after working with her tutor, chose to fight the matter of discrimination with the college's administration. The professor said if she were to remain in his class, then he would give her a grade of a “D” in the class, which revokes the terms of her scholarship. He gave her a “D” and she was forced to attend Pima Community College when she lost her scholarship. Afterward, she enlisted in the United States Air Force and was sent out to California. Grace did not let one incident stop her in life, but rather it became fuel for her motivation to earn a degree and educate others. In fact, she got word that the professor had been discriminatory towards two other students a different year, got fired, and had his certification suspended. This prevented him from teaching in the State of Arizona. It was Grace’s stand against his racism that opened the eyes of others to grant justice for the students.

Born to migrant farm workers, Ed Beltran grew up in Surprise, Arizona. At a young age, his love and experience with art began, and interestingly can be tied in with the famous civil rights’ activist, Cesar E. Chavez. As part of the National Farm Worker’s Association, Ed began doing the artwork on the signs for the Association’s protests and widely included aspects of the Southwest such as napales (cactus paddles) in his art. Together, Ed and Chavez helped in expanding Latino culture through art amongst southern and central Arizona. Ed believes that, “Chicano art focuses on struggles that Latinos have gone through” and really showcases these stories in a visual manner, that can be individually interpreted.

In Tucson, Ed has also been really active as an artist. His artwork is on the graduation tassels for Latino Studies at the University of Arizona and some of his pieces represent Latino culture are hung up in the Bear Down Gym. Similar to Grace, Ed also stresses the importance of being educated and teaching others, especially on Latino culture, in order to limit discrimination. He tells a funny story of how one day while cleaning his yard, he wore a long-sleeved shirt and large sun hat to protect his skin from the sun. An older white couple passed by and the woman said to him, with a very loud voice and slow intonation, “You are doing a good job! How much do you charge?” Ed, taken aback, decided to approach the question calmly and replied, “Well, I do my own yard for free, but I will charge you more.” The couple was thrown off and shocked, Ed explains, and just walked off quickly without saying anything else. He remembers that he laughed-off the situation to Grace because he didn’t think becoming angry would accomplish anything. He believes that, “Ignorance is engrained within one’s teaching and it is up to us to teach them otherwise.”

Grace and Ed got married in 1995 and after living in San Diego for six years, moved back to South Tucson to be closer to home. Here in South Tucson, they both work steady jobs. Ed is a juvenile detention officer for Pima County and Grace is an elementary school teacher. In addition to those jobs, they hold their artistic crafts. Ed is a drawer and painter, and people come to him for tattoo art. Grace has a sewing business and makes lots of different items such as beautiful aprons, quilts, scarves, totes and messenger bags, in addition to personal customer requests. She also incorporates the Mexican and Chicano culture throughout her pieces, such as the Latino architecture of missionaries, Frida Kahlo and the Virgin of Guadalupe. An important point Ed and Grace stressed people of minorities need to remember is that education can destroy ignorance. It is up to them as the newer generation to educate themselves and teach others about their culture.

Ed and Grace really care for their community of South Tucson. They have a tight-knit relationship with members of the community and strive to give back, involving themselves in many numerous activities within the city. Grace teaches art extensively in her classes with her second-and-third-grade students, focusing on Latino artists like Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo. Ed and Grace are also involved with the Garden Kitchen and are captains of the South Tucson Neighborhood Watch, teaching others about subjects, like healthy eating. Ed and Grace Beltran are humble and motivated people who enjoy what they do, while helping out in their community. Ed is a board member of the Primavera Foundation that invests in community projects in South Tucson to take care of its residents. For example, building homes for grandmothers who take care of their grandchildren, teaching résumé writing and providing clothes and shelter for those in need. The neighbors in their area have all received degrees, or are currently in school, and everyone supports and pushes one another. Grace even mentioned they raised money to send one of their fellow neighbors to nursing school when she did not have enough money to attend. Grace sells her art pieces for reasonable prices because she wants her community members to be able to afford her items. Once a month, Grace also sews and patches any clothing the low-income residents of South Tucson need to have done.

The Beltrans are very enthusiastic to work with the House of Neighborly Services in Tucson this summer to teach their art and sewing crafts to other students and enrich the artistic culture in South Tucson. Ed and Grace said it was their “dream to come back to South Tucson and educate others.” I see that they have made great progress in the movement to better the City of South Tucson and promote the education of others, having grown up with the encouragement to always be educated to return to give back to their community. On that note, I leave you with a touching and inspirational quote that Grace’s grandmother, a wise woman, once said: “Lead where you want to in life, but don’t forget where you came from.”

Report this Content
This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
Rebecca Alvarez

Rebecca Alvarez is many things: founder, sexologist, CEO, mentor, and more — as a Latina businesswoman, each of her endeavors is grounded in the strong principles of inclusivity and diversity, especially in sexual health and wellness. Bloomi is the product of her all of her shared passions, and with it she has fostered a community of like-minded, passionate women.

Keep Reading... Show less

There is not a consistent standard for health education in the United States. There are a lot of variables that go into this — what state a student lives in, whether they go to a public or private school, and the district's funding and priorities. These variables can be argued for any subject, not just health class. But as we continue to grow as a society, hopefully bettering our education system along the way, it's crucial to consider this often-forgotten element of a child's schooling.

Keep Reading... Show less

In March, the whole country shut down. School was online, extra-curriculars were canceled, and I found myself laying in bed all day every day. One day, as I was laying in bed contemplating my laziness, I decided that I wanted to do something to make myself more healthy. I was feeling so down on myself and my laziness so I decided to make a change.

Keep Reading... Show less
Entertainment

10 Songs That Made It Onto My September Playlist

September is the month for Los Angeles natives and Australian music fans.

1018

The Neighbourhood, Bad Suns and The Driver Era are three Los Angeles bands that released songs this month. Not only was it a month for Los Angeles bands, but many Australian bands released new music — San Cisco's fourth studio album, Surf Trash single, Skegss single, and High Tropics single. I made new discoveries this month and was pleased by the amount of new music.

Read the listicle below to learn what came out this month in alternative rock music:

Keep Reading... Show less
Health and Wellness

Staying Active While You're Stuck Inside IS Possible, It Just Takes Some Small Steps

I know the last thing you want to think about right now is exercising, but it's time to put down the controller and put on your workout clothes.

9

As someone who has also been living on a bed since March, I can guarantee you that working out has been the last thing on my priority list. It's pretty far down there, along with my motivation and brain cells I used to use for work. However, I have made an effort in the past couple of weeks to move up exercising to at least number three on my priorities list.

Keep Reading... Show less
Health and Wellness

I Got Clean At A Very Young Age, And It Honestly Saved My Life

At 18, the world looked so much different for me than it did for most other 18-year-olds that I knew.

204
Emmie Pombo

Going into rehab when I was 19 was hands down the hardest thing I've ever had to do in my life. My addiction started when I was around 17 and spiraled and spiraled out of control, as addictions always do. However, looking back, I'm so lucky my addiction started and ended when it did.

Keep Reading... Show less
Health and Wellness

7 Things Your Partner Can Do To Support You When You Have PCOS

Don't be afraid to ask for help or comfort if you need it.

10429

Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) may not be totally visible to the eye, which makes it a lot harder for your partner to understand what's going on with your body.

If you are in a relationship, it's important that you communicate your PCOS symptoms with your partner. I say "your" symptoms specifically because everyone's symptoms are different.

Keep Reading... Show less
Health and Wellness

I Watched 'The Social Dilemma' And YIKES, I'm Terrified For The Next Generation's Mental Health

Millennials can remember a time without online social affirmation, but we may be the last ones.

5551
The Social Dilemma / Netflix

I've been in a media job for the entirety of my professional career. From part-time social media internships to full-time editorial work, I've continued to learn how to tell stories, write catchy headlines, and keep people interested. I believe working in media is a big responsibility, as well as a valuable way to advance our world.

Keep Reading... Show less
Politics and Activism

One Indictment, Three Charges, And No Justice For Breonna Taylor

We can't settle for this decision or a system that is fundamentally broken and unequal.

16669

On March 13, 26-year-old Breonna Taylor was fatally shot in her apartment by police who were executing a "no-knock" warrant. Since then, there have been rallying efforts both in the streets and on social media demanding justice for Taylor and keeping her name known.

Keep Reading... Show less
Swoon

I’m OK With Hooking Up On The First Date, But That DOESN'T Make Me Easy

2020 has been a crazy year. And yet, women being comfortable with our bodies still seems to be a big topic in mass media.

1050

I'm an adult. There is no reason I can't have consensual sex with someone on the first date. It does NOT make me easy, and it does not mean I'll have sex with just anyone the first time I meet them.

Keep Reading... Show less
Facebook Comments