culture

Italy and Mexico Partner Up to Bring Hundreds of Stolen Paintings Back To Mexico—Because Art History Matters

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March marked a major cultural win for Mexico in regards to its art history.

Earlier this month, it was announced in Rome that hundreds of paintings by unidentified artists in Mexico between the 17th and 20th centuries will be returned to Mexico. The works of art were illegally sold on the black market and taken to Italy in the 1970s.

An example of one of the painting (shown below) were often inscribed with prayers in Spanish and painted on pieces of fabric or wood.

@albertobonisoli / Instagram

At a private ceremony, Italy’s minister of culture Alberto Bonisoli returned the paintings to Mexico’s secretary of culture, Alejandra Frausto Guerrero. Guerrero emphasized the need for countries to partner and return works of art to their original country of origin. For decades, we have seen art stolen from people during wars and times of strife returned to their rightful owners around the globe.

The Italian government wants to be a leader in the restitution of art stolen around the world depriving citizens of their culture.

@albertobonisoli / Instagram

“Today we have the opportunity to return something to the Mexican government and to send a message to the rest of the world that this type of restitution marks a direction we should all take,” Bonisoli said.

Spanish newspaper El Pais reported it took almost two years of investigation and diplomatic relations to return the paintings back to Mexico.

The newspaper reported agents from the Carabinieri body for the protection of cultural history became suspicious during an exhibition in Milan and thus began a meticulous search to trace back where those art pieces had originally come from.

The Italian government had to use technology to analyze the images to determine that they were from places of worship in Mexico.

@albertobonisoli / Instagram

According to El Pais, the Carabinieri body partnered with techs from the Italian ministry of culture, began to analyze the iconography and inscription of the paintings, eventually finding that the pieces were taken from different places of worship in Mexico between the 1960s and 1970s and then sold to a wealthy Italian art collector who donated the pieces to two Italian museums after his death.

The 594 paintings are in the ex-voto style of art—a miniature painting or votive offering to a saint.

@divina.arte.chile / Instagram

Often showing the person offering this type of painting overcoming a type of physical distress, these types of paintings are common throughout much of Mexico and Latin America.

Mexican artists have been painting this type of intricate paintings for centuries and continue to do so up to today, typically using pieces of small wood or tin (materials readily available) to paint their mini obras de arte and thank the saint they want to praise.

The ongoing cultural partnership with Italy and Mexico has not only helped return these hundreds of paintings to its rightful country, but Italy is also helping Mexican art curators learn how to best preserve Mexican works of art for museum and history collection.

READ: These Are Some Of The Best Visual Contemporary Visual Artists Taking Over The Art World Right Now

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This Dominican Immigrant Teen Just Got Into Harvard On His Own Merit

culture

This Dominican Immigrant Teen Just Got Into Harvard On His Own Merit

@EmilioTheLion / Twitter

The recent college admissions scandal has highlighted the fact that many of the rich and famous are gaming a system already favoring them. Children of the rich are facing growing scrutiny after the world learned schools were bribed to accept certain students. Meanwhile, the story is shedding light on students of color getting into exceptional colleges on their merit while overcoming incredible obstacles. Emilio De Leon is one student showing the world what students of color are capable of doing.

Meet Emilio De Leon, a Dominican immigrant that just got accepted into Harvard.

De Leon, a senior at a Florida high school, posted his amazing achievement on social media and it currently has more than 150,000 likes.

“Not bad for an immigrant kid who used to shower outside #harvard2023!” De Leon wrote on Twitter. The tweet included a picture of him, his mom holding the flag of the Dominican Republic, and a cute picture of him showering outside.

If you’re wondering what it means to be accepted into Harvard, please consider the following: Out of more than 40,000 people that apply to attend, only a little more than 2,000 get accepted — according to last year’s report.

Furthermore, Latinos are a minority at Harvard. According to a report from 2016, the student population, both undergraduate and graduate, is 42.4 percent white, 13.5 percent Asian, 8.04 percent Latino, 5.28 percent Black, 3.77 percent mixed race, 0.22 percent American Indian or Alaska Native, and 0.1 percent Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islanders. A majority of the population, including race and gender, are white males.

Here’s how social media is taking this wonderful news.

We may not know De Leon personally, but we were crying buckets. There is something so inspiring about watching someone from such humble beginnings reach such heights.

He’s already getting attention from his Harvard classmates.

We know what it is like to find people like yourself in certain settings and how great that feels. There is something so amazing and comforting about getting connected with people who understand your culture. How many of us have sought out other Latinos in our spaces to connect with?

So when is he going to be on the “Desus & Mero” show?

Juan Ayala — a/k/a Platano Man or the subway Superman as we’d like to call him — is asking and is giving him props too. We would love to see De Leon interviewed about his experience getting to Harvard and even some insight to his first couple of days.

He even got a nice welcome from his new university.

So very cool! Keep us updated, Emilio, and congratulations. You clearly put in the work and deserve it. Harvard ain’t ready for the kind of magic and hard work a Latino will bring after striving for the best in life. We are rooting for you!

READ: How One Latina’s App Is Helping Undocumented Students Find Ways To Pay For College