Breakthrough New Orleans Arts Building Community Exhibition

Dedicated to educational equity and excellence for all children, Breakthrough New Orleans aims to foster a love of learning and strengthen core academic skills, helping students reach their full potential – placing them on the path towards college. Established in 1990, Breakthrough New Orleans (BTNOLA) continues to respond to the ongoing need for high-quality supplementary educational services for New Orleans public school students. BTNOLA prepares high potential middle-school students with limited resources for rigorous academic experiences in high schools and colleges, while inspiring bright high school and college students to become educators and advocates for education. This “Students Teaching Students” model at Isidore Newman School is a tuition-free, year-round program that pairs underserved middle school students with enthusiastic young teachers.

Developed to increase the availability of dynamic arts education options in the independent and charter school communities of New Orleans, the Arts Building Community Program is a collaboration made possible by the Harry Howard Foundation and the Elizabeth Oudt Fund. As a result of NEW PERSPECTIVES, a year-long collaboration between the Consulate of Mexico in New Orleans, Newman, and the New Orleans Hispanic Heritage Foundation, Breakthrough students participated in workshops with artists Belinda Flores-Shinshillas, Piki Mendizabal and Cristina Molina.

Artist Statements

Piki Mendizabal

My neighborhood in old Havana, Cuba where I grew up, its buildings and houses were a primary theme of my work that the students viewed and discussed. I asked the students to paint a vision of their neighborhood, or home or some favorite place in New Orleans. Guiding them in their preliminary drawings, in the mixture of colors, and helping them to create using their ideas, resulted in these wonderful works that we have the pleasure to present in this exhibit.

Piki Mendizabal is an award-winning artist from Havana, Cuba. A student at Cuba’s National Academy of Fine Arts San Alejandro, Piki arrived in the United States in 2008 to pursue his career as an artist. His work is inspired by his childhood growing up on the island of Cuba. Piki currently resides and works in New Orleans.



Cristina Molina

During Cristina Molina’s workshop, students used found imagery to create stop-motion animations. As a result, students produced small vignettes that are spontaneous and driven by teamwork and chance. The recombinant technique of stop-motion animation lends itself to the production of surrealistic imagery as seen in these students’ works, where themes range from alien invasions to eye explosions.

Cristina Molina is a visual artist who creates video installations that include still imagery and sculptural forms. With a background in the study of psychology and an interest in human relationships, Molina’s non-linear, hypnotic narratives highlight interpersonal dynamics between family members, lovers and friends.

Her mother is from Cuba and her father is from El Salvador. Cristina’s work has won national awards for its immersive quality and inventive use of technology.



Belinda Flores-Shinshillas

Personal relationships within our community are an important component in education. They allow us to have a better understanding of who we are and where we can go in our futures. This workshop gave me the opportunity to go beyond just teaching an art lesson to the young artists presented in this exhibition, as all artists shared memories and moments of personal connection between them and their portrait subjects.

Belinda Flores-Shinshillas was born in Mexico City and later moved to New Orleans greatly influencing her Art. Her work has been of a contemporary nature using the figure as the important element in the visual narrative, merging it with abstract concepts and techniques as a way to move through a space. All the elements in her work become a metaphoric voice, capturing the human nature that is reflected while balancing between intimacy and distance.