RHS junior honored for art by national organization
By Russellville Schools Website

Posted on January 1, 0001 12:00 AM

The national Association of Farmworker Opportunity Programs has named Russellville High School junior Jovani Pacheco-Ramirez second place winner of the Migrant and Seasonal Farmworker Children Art Contest for 2013.

“Jovani’s art speaks to the balancing act that farmworker children go through every day as they live between two worlds – one of toiling in the sun, and the other of bettering their lives through education,” said Daniel Sheehan, executive director of AFOP, which is headquartered in Washington, D.C., and funded by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Jovani’s prismacolor pencil art entry depicts his mother, Austreberta Ramirez, balancing a bucket of freshly-picked tomatoes on her head.

His contest entry description said the piece “shows a typical day in the life” of his mother, “who is cultivating a brighter future for her children.”

Jovani on Wednesday said he portrayed his mother for the contest because “although she works hard for me and my brothers, she always spends time with us and pushes us so we can do better in our education and lives.”

Jovani’s winning artwork fits well into what Robert Crumley, director of communications for AFOP, says is the art contest’s goal – “to help foster thought-seeds of success in migrant and seasonal farm working youth and to encourage them on their path of education.”

“An often challenging, yet important lesson for youth to learn is that it’s okay to make yourself a priority when it comes to self-care and the tending of one’s own seeds of success,” Crumley said.

Norma Flores Lopez, director of the AFOP’s Children in the Fields Campaign, said, “Farmworker children have powerful stories to tell about the challenges their families face each day. Through this contest, we have the opportunity to showcase their talents, and simultaneously teach people about the lives of those who harvest our foods.”

Jovani, who said his family has primarily done migrant work in Florida, Georgia and Kentucky, was born in the United States but lived in Mexico for five years before returning to the United States three years ago, he said. He added his family is now planning on living permanently in Kentucky, where he’s planning a future of working in the visual arts, music or law.

Jovani’s art, which garnered him a $200 prize from AFOP, will now be published in AFOP’s Washington Newsline and included in “a booklet to be presented to key members of Congress and sent to the White House,” according to his letter of congratulations from Sheehan.

While the artwork will be used to help educate many about migrant families’ lives, it’s also indicative of the skills Jovani is gaining at RHS, where art teacher Brenda Brown said, “He is currently exploring different painting techniques and processes.”

His “art skills show a great deal of mastery, especially with his pencil work,” Brown said.

Jovani was motivated to enter his artwork in the AFOP contest by Bonnie Herndon, an RHS English Language Learners instructor, migrant tutor and migrant advocate.

“Jovani is a very talented young man, and his drawing of his mother truly depicts this year’s theme of ‘Cultivating Brighter Futures,” Herndon said of Jovani’s participation in the AFOP art contest.

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