From September 15th to October 15th, we celebrate and honor National Hispanic Heritage Month. If you’ve ever wondered why it begins in the middle of the month, it’s because September 15th is the day that several Latin American countries celebrate their independence, with Mexico’s and Chile’s falling shortly after.
This is a great time for teachers and students to dive into the history, culture and traditions of over 20 countries, including Spain, Mexico, parts of Central America, South America, and the Caribbean.
Unsure of how you can honor National Hispanic Heritage Month in your art room? Here are three ways to do so:
1. Recognize the contributions of notable Hispanic or Latina/e/o/x Americans like Cesar Chavez, Sonia Sotomayor, Jennifer Lopez and Roberto Clemente. Need a lesson idea? Pair any interesting portrait project with a simple research component.
2. Share art and literature written by or about Hispanic or Latina/e/o/z Americans. Here are some of our favorite children’s books:
Alma and How She Got Her Name by Juana Martinez-Neal
Coqui in the City by Nomar Perez
If Dominican Were a Color by Sili Recio
Dreamers by Yuyi Morales
Drum Dream Girl by Margarita Engle & Rafael López
Carmela Full of Wishes by Matt De La Peña & Christian Robinson
You can use this downloadable handout below, to have discussions about the book Alma and How She Got Her Name, and the importance of our names and characteristics that make each of our students uniquely themselves.
This guide is meant to help your students understand the purpose of the book, with each question creating a discussion on the importance of identity and connection.
3. Explore the geography. Show your students what countries are involved in National Hispanic Heritage Month and where these countries are located. You can also explain that while the term “Hispanic” and “Latina/e/o/x are sometimes used interchangeably, they are not the same.
While National Hispanic Heritage Month may only last for 30 days, you can use each of these as a springboard for building awareness and honoring both Hispanic and Latina/e/o/x heritage year-round.
If there comes a time when you don’t know something, don’t be afraid to admit it and then use that as motivation to learn more.
To help you get started, here is one of our favorite contemporary artists, Quinn Antonio Briceño.
Photo Credit: @qbricenoart
Quinn Antonio Briceño was born in Nicaragua, but is now based in St. Louis, Missouri. His artwork draws from his life experiences growing up in both Nicaragua and the United States and his creations encapsulate his search for identity and finding balance between both backgrounds. He paints with acrylics and creates traditional Nicaraguan tile patterns and natural stains from different beans to pay homage to his heritage.
Create expressive portraits like Briceño with this lesson: Emotion Portraits
Draw inspiration from Mexican themes with these lesson ideas:
To learn more about other artists with connections to countries celebrated in National Hispanic Heritage Month, you can check out the Contemporary Hispanic Artists Bundle inside the Sparklers’ Club. Not a Sparklers’ Club member? Join the waitlist HERE.
Do you have other artists or book recommendations that you’d like to share? We’d love to learn about them in the comments below!