SPRINGFIELD, Ohio – Every day, the world moves a little closer to Wittenberg, and Wittenberg moves a little closer to the world.
In the latest example, award-winning Peruvian artist Dante Guevara Bendezú is making the first international trip of his life thanks to the efforts of several Wittenberg University professors and a host of Springfield community partners. Bendezú is on campus for a series of special exhibits and activities, part of a campus- and community-wide celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month. His work went on display in Wittenberg’s Ann Miller Gallery in Koch Hall and in Thomas Library on Monday, Oct. 3, with the official opening of the exhibit scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 12.
The official opening event will take place in the Ann Miller Gallery and will feature South American music and foods and brief introductions from John Cantrell, adjunct professor of languages at Wittenberg, and University President Mark Erickson. Cantrell spearheaded the effort to bring Bendezú to campus after meeting the young artist in 2002 while studying near his hometown of Ica, Peru.
Bendezú has been painting since he was 13 years old, and in recent years his artwork has won several national awards and has drawn the interest of tourists from as far away as Japan. The inspiration for many of his works, some of which are currently on display in a gallery in Okinawa, Japan, is from the Nazca culture, dating 300 years B.C. and even pre-dating the Inca domination of Peru. Bendezú will be speaking to Spanish classes during his month-long visit, and he is scheduled to participate in student organization meetings and share his expertise with drawing classes as well.
“This has taken quite a few months, but I believe it is beneficial for the Wittenberg and Springfield communities to gain this kind of cultural experience during Hispanic Heritage Month,” Cantrell said.
Six different “Meet the Artist” events are scheduled, beginning on Saturday from 10 a.m.-1 p.m. at Coffee Expressions. Bendezú also will appear from 2-4 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 13, at Framecraft; from 11:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 15, at La Llama Place in Yellow Springs; from 9:30 a.m.-noon Thursday, Oct. 20 at Home City Federal Savings Bank; from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 22 at Cecil & Lime Café, and during Wittenberg’s Homecoming and Reunion weekend from 10 a.m.-12:30 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 29, in the Benham-Pence Student Center.
In addition, Bendezú will be featured in a colloquium scheduled for 4:30 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 20, in Ness Family Auditorium, Hollenbeck Hall, and his exhibit will conclude with a farewell event at Los Mariachis Restaurant at 7 p.m. Monday, Oct. 31. All of these events are free and open to the public.
The entire event is sponsored by the departments of foreign languages and literatures, Africana studies, American studies, art, education and global studies, the offices of international education and multicultural student programs, the Wittenberg University Alumni Association, the Hispanic Culture Club and Student Senate. In addition, Cantrell noted the contributions of Build A Better Wittenberg, a campus campaign designed to increase both awareness and tolerance of diversity and multiculturalism at the university.
Community sponsors include all aforementioned businesses, as well as Joe’s Route 40 Grill. In addition to the displays on campus, selected works can be viewed in Framecraft and Home City Federal Savings Bank throughout the month.
- Ryan Maurer