“What I find so interesting about traveling is seeing the similarities among cultures. Our nationality, food, customs and language may be different… but the core of who we are, our emotional needs and desires are the same. Art plays a major role in joining those similarities. Art stimulates a response in our being and inspires our soul to relate to others.” – Rosa Ibarra
Born in Puerto Rico, American artist Rosa Ibarra went to high school in Paris, France, and holds a degree in fine arts in painting from the University of Massachusetts. She was selected by Art in Embassies to travel to Riga, the capital of Latvia, to participate in an Artist Exchange. Two of Rosa’s paintings, Three Graces and Aria, are on loan to Art in Embassies’ exhibition in the Ambassador’s residence. Ambassador Pekala and his wife Maria enjoyed working with the Art in Embassies curator to create an exhibition that reflects the experience of immigrants and their descendants, as well as the proud traditions of the many cultures integrated into the overall culture of the United States, including three paintings by Latvian-American artist Maruta Racenis.
In March of 2013, Rosa travelled to Riga to attend the opening and reception for the Art in Embassies exhibition and to conduct workshops and lectures. The program, put together by the expert embassy staff, included a workshop with teenagers recovering from drug and alcohol abuse, which took place in Straupe, a small village located in the country about 60 miles west of Riga. Rosa presented a short lecture on the history of portraiture, followed by a workshop on portrait painting. Not only did the teens paint, but Rosa created portraits of the teenagers at their request. Unable to complete them all in a single day, Rosa set aside a second day of her visit to make sure every teen had a portrait. After concluding her visit to the teen center, Rosa was a guest at the Art in Embassies opening reception at the Ambassador’s residence, attended by the international community, where she relayed her experiences to a receptive audience.
Other components of the cultural exchange included a lecture and workshop organized by Professor Raimond Kalejs and the embassy staff, at the prestigious Art Academy of Latvia, where Rosa interacted with the students and faculty. On her third day, Rosa visited the Ziemeli orphanage with children between three and twelve years old, where she did face, ”tattoo”, and paper painting. As her four day program came to an end, Rosa observed that “art touches our spirit at any age, in both a passive and active manner. It can be as painting a face or having your face painted, drawing a portrait or posing for it. The Artist Exchange offers a wonderful opportunity to an artist such as myself, to bring art and their story to others.”