Walter Solón Romero (1932-1999), a multi-faceted and prolific bolivian artist, believed in the power of art to transform the world. During his lifetime he suffered imprisonment, torture, exile and the “disappearance” of his stepson. His art reflects suffering and hope, solidarity and defiance, despair and joy. Recurrent themes, represented through murals, paintings and drawings, include human rights, children’s rights, women, indigenous peoples, access to water, freedom from discrimination and solidarity against oppression.
The Fundación Solón not only promotes his work, but continues his legacy by adding new themes, such as climate change, to the range of justice and equity issues embraced by the current generation of bolivian artists and social activists. (In particular, look for information on Bolivia’s melting glaciers.)
Of special interest to those who teach all or part of Cervantes’ Don Quijote are Solón’s striking grabados depicting Don Quijote striving to do good in modern circumstances. A few examples are below. More are available here (scroll down to see a slide show of the works.
His legacy also continues through the work of his students. The Refuge Media Project has some photos and descriptions of Bolivia’s Plaza de los Desaparecidos in La Paz that includes a mural designed by Pablo Mendoza based on Solón’s sketches. The mural echoes Solón’s treatment of the Quijote figure. The plaza is dedicated to José Carlos Trujillo, the son of Gladys Oroza de Solón, Walter Solón’s wife.
Advanced Spanish or literature students can search the slide shows of the Quijote grabados on the Fundación Solón web site and find characteristics that reflect Don Quijote as described by Cervantes. What other situations might Don Quijote tackle today? Are these images negative or positive? What message does the artist wish to convey? Do you think the depiction of Quijote in the grabados is true to the depiction of Quijote in the novel? Why or why not?
Other themes for discussion might include the role of art and public art in society (or in a given community) and the use of public spaces in a city. There are many, many works of art available on the site to inspire discussion.