Colors of Fiesta! Student Exhibit

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Academy of Career and Technologies Charter School students during a build day in class.
© Myriam Jimenez

Colors of Fiesta!

Institute of Texan Cultures challenges students to tackle a Fiesta tradition

SAN ANTONIO – Few San Antonio traditions so perfectly embody the city’s spirit as Fiesta. The Institute of Texan Cultures engaged local high school students to embrace a Fiesta tradition and offer their own perspectives in a student exhibit.
Academy of Career and Technologies Charter High School students will display their own fiesta hats in "Colors of Fiesta!," March 28 to July 6. Over the course of two months, they studied Fiesta and San Antonio history, then designed and created their own renditions of over-the-top Fiesta headgear.
"A student perspective can tell us how our culture is changing and how change affects our traditions," said Ashlie McKenzie, education specialist and coordinator for the student exhibit. "The 15 pieces we got from the students have shown us that time-honored Fiesta traditions are important to this new generation of festival goers. Fiesta hats are an outlet for them to express their personalities in creative and unique ways."
Fiesta hats are believed to have gained popularity in the late 1970s and early 1980s, the same timeframe that home-made Fiesta medals made their debut. Another hat tradition goes back to the 1950s, when NIOSA sold straw hats and decorative baubles as a fundraiser.
"This unique project allowed the students to feel proud of the city in which they lived," said fashion and design teacher Myriam Jimenez. "The fact that their creations will be exhibited in a museum gallery made them feel proud and important, and like they said, ‘we are going to be famous!’ It was very exciting, academically enriching and fulfilling, culturally and personally."
The Institute of Texan Cultures regularly seeks out partners for student exhibits. Last year, the museum worked with Edgewood Fine Arts Academy for a student Fiesta medal exhibit. Other exhibits, such as "Beeville: My Small Town" by Beeville’s Moreno Middle School and "A Maverick’s Texas" by the Pasadena Memorial High School Mavericks have featured student work.
Colors of Fiesta is a component of "Hats Off to Fiesta," the Institute of Texan Cultures’ Fiesta hat exhibit. Other components include a 2014 Medal Mania sash, a retrospective photo mural on NIOSA, and a free April 26 family day, with children’s activities planned.
The Institute of Texan Cultures is located on the UTSA HemisFair Park Campus, 801 E. César E. Chávez Blvd., a short distance from the Alamo and the River Walk. Regular hours are 9 a.m.-5 p.m., Monday-Saturday; noon-5 p.m. Sunday. Admission is $8 for adults (ages 12-64); $7 for seniors (ages 65+); $6 for children (ages 3-11); free with membership, UTSA or Alamo Colleges identification. For more information, call 210-458-2300 or visit




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