This year from April to October, Greenville residents and visitors will be able to enjoy interacting with Wings of the City, a temporary installation of nine bronze sculptures by Mexican artist Jorge Marín. The exhibit will be placed throughout Falls Park and on the Peace Center campus. This collection, which has been displayed around the world and in Texas, Colorado and California, will make its East Coast debut in Greenville thanks to a collaboration between the city of Greenville and the Hispanic Alliance of South Carolina.
The general consul of Mexico in Raleigh, Claudia Velasco-Osorio, reached out to the Alliance’s executive director, Adela Mendoza, about bringing the exhibition to the Carolinas, and when presented with the project, Greenville city leaders were enthusiastic.
“We are thrilled to facilitate this collaboration and celebrate our global community in the Upstate,” Mendoza says. “Wings of the City offers a welcome incentive to get outdoors and explore art in the gorgeous backdrop of Falls Park, and it has enormous potential to bring an influx of tourism to Greenville.”
Celebrating and promoting Hispanic cultures is one of the many ways the Hispanic Alliance builds bridges across cultures. The organization convenes a network of partners to help understand and address the needs of the Hispanic population, promoting an inclusive community where everyone can thrive. Some of those needs became more pronounced with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic and the associated economic crisis.
Monumental winged beings taking in the beauty of their new surroundings. #WingsofGVL— City of Greenville (@CityGreenville) March 30, 2021
Wings of the City presented by @BankofAmerica is a collection of nine monumental bronze sculptures by world-renowned Mexican artist Jorge Marín. pic.twitter.com/wdvDwcfyv7
Last spring, as service providers scrambled to disseminate information about the novel virus, Hispanic Alliance advocated for language access, provided pro-bono translation for multiple local systems, and served as a trusted source of information for Spanish-speaking residents. They designed a comprehensive, bilingual COVID-19 resource webpage, sent weekly digital newsletters to keep hundreds of providers informed, and leveraged social media channels to reach thousands of people. The team also provided informational flyers at businesses and essential services to reach those without internet access.
The pandemic worsened the issue of food instability across ethnicities, and many in the Hispanic population faced hunger for the first time. The Alliance partnered with local Hispanic grocers to create a culturally relevant food access model, Canasta Básica (“basic basket”), containing staple ingredients used in Hispanic households. Hispanic grocers contributed food items at cost or discounted, often donating the food, and grant-funded vouchers were included in each basket, allowing families to choose their own fresh ingredients in these local stores, accessing food with dignity.
These collaborative efforts enriched ties with local businesses and community members, cementing bonds of trust that will serve them well going forward, Mendoza says.
“Our community is resilient. People will fight to return to work, to buy their own food, and secure their family’s future,” she says. “While crisis response is an area where we excel, our work centers around systems change and advocacy to eliminate barriers and create pathways to opportunity. By helping youth access higher education, fostering leadership from within underrepresented communities, and creating platforms to elevate their voices, we can help families move from the edge of a cliff to building their own bridge across.”
The Community Foundation of Greenville awarded a $7,500 capacity building grant to the Hispanic Alliance in September 2020. Disbursement of these grants was expedited and their use was unrestricted to help nonprofits respond to the effects of the pandemic. It has also committed $2,500 toward the Wings of the City project.
“The Community Foundation has supported the mission of the Hispanic Alliance since it first started its work in Greenville,” said CFG President Bob Morris. “With our current sponsorship of the Wings exhibit we hope to support the awareness and appreciation of the rich cultural traditions of Hispanic families here. This showcase can give wings to meaningful connections between many cultures.”