Artist Ricardo Levins Morales visits university as part of Newman Symposiuim

Aug 23, 2012

Award-winning artist Ricardo Levins Morales spent time with university faculty and staff last week as part of the Newman Symposium, a professional development experience for university employees.

Morales is known for artwork with a social justice message. However, Newman Assistant Professor of Spanish Sonja Bontrager said that after listening to Morales’ presentation, she gets the strong sense that the art is just the tip of the iceberg in the artist’s value and purpose.

“Because of his work with groups experiencing conflict of various kinds, he encouraged us to be curious and look for the common layer of humanity and needs we share even among those with whom we may disagree,” Bontrager said. “I feel challenged to listen to others with more compassion and with a greater awareness of my own blinders, so that I may gain an understanding of different perspectives, even though they may be quite different from my own.”

Bontrager added that not all who attended would necessarily agree with Morales regarding his stance on various social issues. However, some community residents enjoyed the opportunity to meet Morales. Wichitan Laura Dungan was pleasantly surprised when the reception information was passed along to her.

“I clicked on the website and there was the art!” Dungan said. “The same art that has hung in my kitchen for years, but I didn’t know who the artist was, I just knew I loved the work. This is my guy!” she said smiling.

Dungan was among a group of attendees affiliated with The Seed House (Casa de la Semilla), a new organization launching in Wichita in early September with the mission of using the arts and popular education to organize community members while supporting new ideas for positively impacting social change. More on The Seed House can be found at

Over the years Morales’ artwork has incorporated such media as paper and pencil, wood block and linoleum prints, silk screening, and scratchboard with white clay. He is mostly known for his poster and button artwork for social justice causes. He is influenced by the work of the Puerto Rican Lorenzo Homar and the North American David Levine.

For more information about Ricardo Levins Morales and his artwork, visit


L-r: Sonja Bontrager, Ricardo Morales, and Billie Knighton pose for a photo during a special reception held in Morales’ honor following his Aug. 16 afternoon presentation.
L-r: Laura Dungan, Armando Minjarez, Ricardo Morales, Billie Knighton, and Ingrid Brown at the evening reception.
Some of the featured artwork by Ricardo Morales.