Jaipriya Kaur Sanchez,
Jaipriya Kaur Sanchez, Art Teacher Madera High School

Madera in A Nation of Immigrant Artists

By Dr. Marchéta Williams, Director Visual and Performing Arts THE UNITED STATES of America is a nation of immigrants and descendants of immigrants. American art forms, like American music and literature, have been immeasurably enriched by the contributions of artists from every land coming to the United States to add their unique ideas and styles to the American artistic tapestry. Few art forms created in the United States have been completely free of foreign roots. American music, literature, and art have all been shaped from the beginning by artistic trends, figures, and movements from other countries, by artists immigrating to the United States, and by those moving back and forth between the United States and other countries. The history of the visual arts is a similar story of cross-fertilization and immigrant imagination, coming from every direction of the globe. The history of American painting is studded with immigrant names. John James Audubon, America’s most famous wildlife painter, was born in Haiti of French parents and came to the United States in 1803. Artists continued to immigrate to America during the twentieth century, and especially after the rise of Nazi Germany. George Grosz came from Germany in 1932, Hans Richter in 1941, and Max Beckmann in 1947. The famed Mexican muralists of the 1920’s and 1930’s—Diego Rivera, José Clemente Orozco, and David Alfaro Siqueiros—were all residents of the United States at one time or another and worked on a number of mural projects in New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Detroit, and other cities. Waves of immigration after 1980 have come from Asia, Latin America, and the Middle East, and American art has experienced an infusion of styles and images from all these directions. Jaipriyaa Kaur Sanchez, artist and teacher was born in the capital city of New Delhi, India. Her family immigrated to the United States when she was 12 years old. She was taught basic English (mostly vocabulary words) while growing up in India. Fortunate to be provided a private education in India, her parents also hired a private English tutor for both she and her brother while living in India. Jaipryia said that the tutor focused mostly on her brother during those tutoring sessions and she didn’t learn much English. Today, Jaipriya speaks three languages fluently, Hindi, Punjabi, English, and is currently studying Spanish. “Competition is very tough in India, and my parents wanted me to be ahead of the game.” For example with displaying student art, “Not everyone gets their art work up. For your art work to be displayed at school, it has to be the best,” says Jaipriya. When asked why her family chose to come to the United States, Jaipriya said that her mother did not want to come to the United States, even though she already had family here. Because of the continued increase in population and pollution, in India, the incentive to move to the U.S. became more desirable. Her father, on the other hand, was motivated to move to the U.S. Family members in Clovis were very instrumental in finding employment for her father. The transition was rough. Jaipriya will always remember the struggles of the early days in the U.S. involving finances and learning English. Both Jaipriya and her brother were heavily bullied in school, much of which she attributed to 9/11 aftermath. Her family arrived in the United States right at that time. “I was being called Osama bin Laden’s daughter, and so many other names,” although she was never physically hit. I asked if she ever missed school because of the bullying, or shared the problem and information with her parents. “I didn’t miss school because I couldn’t share (the bullying) with my parents. There was an unspoken rule in my family. You have to go to school. There is no reason for you not to. To be able to express your emotions, was not “a thing” in our family. I believe my brother went through some of the same things but he just shut down and never talked to us about it.” Growing up, Jaipriya said that her parents thought of her as a “Star Child,” involved in a lot of visual and performing arts back in India, receiving a lot of fame from dancing and singing. As a Clovis student, Jaipriya was placed in choir. Her teachers were her best friends. Surprisingly, she began art classes as a high school senior. Growing up, she watched a lot of “Anime” and drew many of the characters. As a college student, her parents planned for her to be a pharmacist. After meeting the muralist, Mauro Cee, while at a Fresno State showing, Jaipriya approached the art professor, Nick Potter, at Fresno State and said, “I want to be in this class,” (art class) and began taking all of the drawing and painting classes available at the university. Jaipriya has worked in the Madera Unified School district as an art teacher for the past six years. When asked about her future plans and goals, she responded, “I want to teach more advanced classes because I love guiding the students so they can find more of themselves through their work because that’s what art did for me. I always want them to follow their joy. When they say they’re stuck, I say go for something that brings you joy and it will find you.” Originally, Jaipriya didn’t want to be a school teacher. She taught from the time she arrived in America, teaching the language, dances, and songs of India at the Sikh Temple, (religious place of worship). Her ROP experience in high school allowed her the opportunity to teach 4th grade basic math at an elementary school. She was also a part of Link Crew. The superintendent in Clovis at the time visited the classroom that day, gave her a business card and asked he to contact her if she ever wanted to be a teacher . Her long-range goal is to continue teaching. “I love teaching students who want to be there (in the art class). I enjoy teaching advanced students. I want to have more advanced classes because most of those students really want to become better. I know my students are very talented. They don’t need me to show them how to “draw”. I can be there to go through the journey with them and be in awe of their work.” Student artwork celebrating Hispanic Heritage

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