Arts & Culture

Student Diversity Committee makes first selections for museum’s permanent collection

Students serving on the recently-formed Oglethorpe University Museum of Art Student Diversity Committee have selected and purchased their first acquisitions. The two works by Dominican American artist Pilar Martínez will be added to OUMA’s growing permanent collection.

The OUMA Student Diversity Committee was created in June 2020 as part of Oglethorpe University’s expanded commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion. The goal of the committee is to find, elevate and prioritize diverse voices at every level of the museum’s activities and programming.

The 2020-2021 OUMA Student Diversity Committee includes Nyree Dowdy ’21, Lidia Labrada ’23, Clara Grimaldo ’21, Taylor Roberts ’21, Hayleigh Stonham ’22, David Swillum ’21, Theo Williams ’23 and Ashrakat Hassan ’24.


The first piece from Pilar Martínez is titled “Self portrait with family.”

“It’s about pursuing our own dreams through the eyes of our family…their fears, their falls, their wins, their losses, their unfulfilled goals and their limitations,” says Martínez.

“Many people from different cultures and backgrounds continue to paint the image of themselves through the words, actions, and approval of their families,” says committee member Lidia Labrada ’23, “This distortion of identity is not a topic of discussion for only those living with mixed identities, but it is one for anyone who does or doesn’t have a relationship with their families.”

Labrada was among only 15 undergraduates selected for the Mellon Summer Academy hosted at the High Museum of Art in Atlanta last summer. She was accompanied by fellow committee member Hayleigh Stonham ’22.

The second work is titled “Chicken soup for the immigrant’s soul.”

“As immigrants we go by to our daily routines, quietly, unnoticed, blending in and keeping our ‘music inside.’ There is so much power within us, if only we could open our own life book, and play it loudly, experience it as our deepest desire would like to, dance to our own melody and share it with the world,” says Martínez.

“As an immigrant, having a text like that would make me feel not so alone in this world and supported. It speaks volumes,” says committee member Ashrakat Hassan ’24, “I love that piece.”

Pilar Martínez, whose art has been featured before at Oglethorpe during the 2017 “Hispaniola” event, was born and raised in the Dominican Republic. Her art is a colorful and vivid exploration of her own Latin American culture. Certainly, the two pieces selected by the student committee are both a celebration and a reflection on the experiences of immigrants.

These pieces selected by the student committee will be housed outside of the Office of the President on the third floor of Lupton Hall. As OUMA continues to expand and diversify its permanent collection, more of these pieces are slated to be on view across campus — not just in the museum.

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