When Furman Spanish Professor Angélica Lozano-Alonso asked her students to participate in the #WingsoftheCityGVL Instagram photo challenge, she no doubt would’ve been thrilled with a single winner from her class. Turns out her students swept first, second and third place in the competition sponsored by the Jorge Marín Foundation, Hispanic Alliance and the Consulate General of Mexico in Raleigh, North Carolina.
The exhibition, “Wings of the City,” a flock of nine winged bronze sculptures by renowned Mexican sculptor Marín, has dotted Falls Park and the Peace Center campus in downtown Greenville since April. As part of Lozano-Alonso’s Hispanics in the United States class, she had students visit the exhibition, write a reflection, and then participate in the Instagram competition with a photo and caption in Spanish. Winners were determined by the number of likes their photos collected.
Dani Boyette ’22 of Greenville, a communication studies and Spanish language and literature double major, took first place with her photo captioned “A walk in the clouds.”
“Being able to see art created by a Mexican artist in Greenville was helpful because it brought awareness to Hispanic artists as well as thought-provoking ideas that are different for Greenville and the non-Hispanic community here,” Boyette said.
Kate Massey ’22 was out with a friend at dinner when she learned of her winning photo with caption, “I want to fly.”
“I saw a girl that was in my Spanish class, and she was like, ‘Did you see that you won?’ And I just started laughing because I thought she was kidding. But then I checked my phone and there it was,” she said.
The intermediate-level class, taught entirely in Spanish, is typically earmarked for majors, but Massey’s love for the language drew her in, not to mention the extras Lozono-Alonso adds to the mix such as the competition and invited speakers. Students also receive community engagement credit on their transcripts for taking the course.
“Activities like the competition really engage you in the community. The class has been a great opportunity to see how Hispanic heritage and culture is celebrated in Greenville,” Massey said.
Both Boyette and Massey won original lithographs by Marín. A basket of gift cards and goodies from local retailers went to Cameron Baird ’24 who won third prize for his photo captioned “Downtown and outside.”
Baird, a Spanish and business double major from Greenville, said he was ecstatic to learn of the news and owes some of his success to loyal roommates who shared in the challenge. “The contest added another dimension of outreach and awareness of Hispanics in our community. It brought a beautiful lens to see Greenville through,” Baird said.
The City of Greenville and Hispanic Alliance worked in concert to bring the exhibition to Greenville – the first time the sculptures have been on display east of the Mississippi. Sponsored by Bank of America, the exhibition also received support from the Furman Humanities Center, which funded Marín’s installation of “El Tiempo,” an armless, winged figure reminiscent of ancient ruins, prompting viewers to consider untold stories.
In a related article, Michele Speitz, director of the Humanities Center and associate professor of English literature, said, “At an institution like Furman, we would want to support those intersections between the arts and the humanities, and between the sciences and culture — not just within the university’s bounds but within the community. We just won the Carnegie award for community engagement, so we are in the top tier of universities that strive to do these [kinds of outreach].”
“Wings of the City” is set to fly to Raleigh, North Carolina, in October, but not before underscoring for Greenvillians the importance of migration and cultural exchange the art represents.