Student exhibit - Ramp it Up: Texas Style

Skatexas feat
© Dante Dipsacuale and Josh Dukes

Ramp it Up: Texas Style

Student work accompanies Smithsonian traveling exhibit at ITC


View the student art guide

SAN ANTONIO – This fall, the Institute of Texan Cultures sets out to prove that in Texas culture, sport includes more than just football. The Smithsonian Institution’s traveling exhibit , Ramp it Up: Skateboard Culture in Native America, and the ITC’s accompanying Ramp it Up: Texas Style, on display Nov. 2 – Jan. 5, give visitors an in-depth look at the history, language, lifestyle and art that help define skateboarding culture in Texas and across the United States.
When the institute learned it was getting the Smithsonian exhibit, which explores the popularity of skateboarding among Native American and Native Hawaiian communities, ITC educators immediately reached out to find a partner that could illustrate how skateboarding culture had not just taken hold, but thrived in Texas. MacArthur High School in San Antonio’s North East Independent School District has one of the few school-sanctioned skateboarding clubs in the city and its students embraced the project with enthusiasm.
They have compressed more than 40 years of culture – from the sport’s 1970s emergence in Texas – into 15 illustrations painted on genuine skate board decks. Through their art, the students throw open the door on what many consider a closed culture. The display shows Texans who have made names for themselves in professional skateboarding; Texas bands that have provided a soundtrack to the sport; Texas companies that built boards and gear; and Texas destinations that have been cultural hubs, whether backyard ramps or full-scale parks.
"The boards are a codex – a guide to this culture," said Ashlie McKenzie, ITC educational specialist. "The exhibit gave the students an outlet to teach others about the rich history and dynamic culture of a sport that often has an unwarranted negative reputation. The student work is phenomenal, whether it’s the quality of the art or what their imagery expresses."
In their remarks, available in the exhibit’s online guide, many of the students express how skateboarding is a form of expression and a means to constantly challenge and improve themselves. Skaters can refine, vary and improvise their tricks, leading to a personal style that continuously evolves.
"Once I set foot on my seven-ply Anti-Hero skateboard, I feel like the options are endless," said student Mark Zapata. "The reason I love skateboarding is because it’s all in your head; you have to get over your fears to progress."
Additional content available only online brings even more depth to Ramp it Up. Will Flores, a UTSA student, competed in the 2013 summer X-Games in Los Angeles. A pair of UTSA professors have taken footage of his skating and analyzed it for their web series, "SK8 FZX" – Skate Physics. Using slow-motion and freeze-frame, they illustrate the forces at work in spins, jumps and other maneuvers.
After the exhibit opening, the MacArthur students have been invited to return to the Institute of Texan Cultures on Nov. 16, when the museum will host a Ramp-it-Up Family Day, thanks to the generous support of Target. The first 50 kids through the door will get a free Tech Deck finger board to use in the mini skate park at the museum that day. Other activities will include t-shirt silk-screening with ARTPACE, a Skate Mechanics station where MacArthur students will teach skate board assembly and maintenance, a chance to try Tony Hawk’s "Shred" video game and a presentation from Carter Dennis, the executive director of Skaters for Public Skate Parks.
"This is a content-rich exhibit," said McKenzie. "With pieces from the Smithsonian, from the MacArthur students, and from UTSA, we will show several facets of skateboarding culture and give our visitors an opportunity to see what this sport means, how it brings people together, and how it motivates them to be their best."
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




Receive Texan Cultures E-Blast Updates

Official Institute of Texan Cultures Periodic Bulletin:

Enter your e-mail address to receive periodic information on announcements, news, events and event schedule changes.