Behind the Scenes at the DAM

Chocolate Brings People Together at CelebrARTE

The theme of this month’s CelebrARTE is “Chocolate,” a food we think of around Valentine’s Day. For generations we have been gifting chocolate to our loved ones on this holiday, and it is no surprise given the food’s history. Chocolate comes to us from ancient Mesoamerican cultures, like the Maya and Aztec, where the food was highly valued and exchanged during important moments. The beans were used as currency and given as prized gifts; the beverage offered during ritualized events, sealed deals, or marriages. At the DAM, chocolate will bring together a partnership between the CelebrARTE program and participants in Metropolitan State University’s Journey Through Our Heritage program.

The Journey program brings together diverse Metro State students who become mentors, empowered by connecting with their heritages. These mentors then work with high-school students to develop their academics in preparation for the university environment. A key focus of Journey is on Latino arts, histories, and cultures (among others), much like the focus of DAM’s CelebrARTE program. 

Because of the connections between our programs, I have long wanted to partner with this group. On February 16, I am excited to say that Journey will finally be joining us to help create Mayan-inspired poetry in the taller/artist’s workshop. Student participants in the Journey program have learned much about the indigenous cultures of the Americas, including the Maya, and how to facilitate art projects that connect to our ancient cultural heritage. Through Mayan chocolate-inspired poetry and artmaking, CelebrARTE is providing a platform for students to grow as artists and teachers, and the DAM’s visitors will learn from the deep cultural knowledge shared by the young maestros. CelebrARTE and Journey will begin a partnership through the topic, as the exchange of chocolate has helped to build relationships between people throughout its long history.

In addition to artmaking and poetry, visitors to CelebrARTE: Chocolate will receive coupons to sample chocolate from The Shop, and be invited to see, touch, and smell different ingredients in chocolate. Hope to see you there!

Madalena Salazar is the Latino cultural programs coordinator in the education department at the Denver Art Museum. Madalena has been at the DAM since 2011 and her favorite artwork that has been on view here is Mud Woman Rolls On. This piece reminds her of home, family, and community and serves as inspiration for her practice as a museum educator at the DAM.