KANSAS CITY, MO — It’s not just the artwork created but the cultivating of culture at the Mattie Rhodes Art Center and Gallery that still sits with former student Monique Ortiz
“I can still smell the leather and hear the pounding of the wood room,” Ortiz said.
For Ortiz, Mattie Rhodes Art Center was a place with a lot of great memories and culture that the current generation of students get to embrace.
“This is our culture. Mattie Rhodes really sticks to that and it lets our kids learn that we are more than just food. We are also art and we are stories,” Ortiz said.
Inside Mattie Rhodes Art Center there are stories told through art and creativity, which Ortiz said is important to the westside community.
“There is not a lot for our kids to do around here. We do have a community center and we do have other sports around, but not everyone wants to hit a baseball you know," Ortiz said. "I feel like the art center is another outlet for us to express themselves."
However, an expansion into a roughly 4,000 square foot building has been made possible by federal funding of $1.3 million.
“So being able to have this space and not only have that physical ownership but really put our hearts into it and really let others feel that connection,” Jenny Mendez, cultural arts director for Mattie Rhodes Art Center, said.
“We become apart of what that is. We become the corazon for this block for part of the westside. We’re not the only heart of the westside but definitely to have ownership of a space and because culture is so strong not just the Mexican culture but all cultures, in the work that we do in the arts,” Mendez said.