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Witliff Collection releases exhibit celebrating Tejano art


Legends of Tejano Music features a classic Tejano star outfit Sept. 6 at the Wittliff Collections.

Photo by Hannah Felske | Staff Photographer

A new collection featuring articles from Tejano artists throughout history is now on display in the Witliff Collections on the 7th floor of the Alkek library.
The exhibit contains items from collector Ramõn Hernãndez, a long-time journalist, photographer and historian, who has worked closely with the artists of Tejano music for over 40 years.
David Coleman, director of the Witliff Collections said he and his staff entrusted the project to Hernãndez due to his expertise in the subject of Tejano art.
“He’s the expert, he knows the material, kind of like encyclopedic knowledge,” Coleman said. “We gave him some tips on what kind of works in this space, but basically he had total freedom setting up.”
The exhibit, which displays several cases in a timeline order starting with the left side of the room, took almost a month to put together. Hernãndez, his wife and the Witliff staff worked extensively almost every day leading up to the unveiling of the works.
“For something as big as this is, and with so many moving parts and costumes and such, it takes a team,” Coleman said. “We knew some point this semester we would put up a major show highlighting all of the materials in his collections.”
The Witliff chose to display this series with the intent of celebrating underrepresented Tejano music in addition to its art and history, as is the collection’s purpose. The growth and adaptation of Tejano music can be seen when visitors follow the timeline.
“Music is regarded around the world as an important part of any culture, and Texas State University is known for encompassing all cultures,” Coleman said. This exhibit speaks to many people on campus, and enlightens others who are walking through. We are really putting a lot of emphasis on music this year, and we need to represent all cultures of Texas music. It’s really pulled in a whole group of people.”
Lyda Guz, events coordinator at the Witliff Collections, said the Witliff is expanding and calling the exhibit a pillar of their new section, and an important one.
“The Tejano artists are kind of underrepresented; they don’t have a lot of places to show and it’s such a colorful, flashy show,” Guz said. “It exhibits so well.”
“Hernãndez has a love for the history of Tejano artists, and wants to inspire people by showing his collection,” Guz said. “Hernãndez had too many artifacts in his home, so he needed a public venue, and this exhibit is just a small fraction of what he has in his possession.”
Emily Cappello, physics freshman, admires the Witliff Collections for showcasing music, and said schools often do not prioritize the arts.
“I think that music is something people should celebrate and should embrace,” Cappello said. “I think it’s a good thing to see where it comes from and the history of it.”
Coleman has a video of Hernãndez playing on loop during the exhibit, and said he hopes students understand the passion that went into creating the music originally, and in gathering the art.
“You have the collector telling you the history of a dress or of a hat, and you also get kind of the broader context of why this is important and the history of the music,” Coleman said. “Spend some time up here.”
The collection will be on display until Dec. 20, and a mystery event pertaining to the exhibit will take place on Nov. 12,.

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