This summer Latinitas commissioned artist J Muzacz and his organization The Mosaic Workshop to create seven mosaic pieces, each dedicated to the courageous women who were being honored at Latinitas’ 20th annual Purple Party Gala. The Mosaic Workshop is an Austin-based art studio that offers, unsurprisingly, workshops on the basics of mosaics all the way to advanced techniques. The pieces were a part of the Legends Mosaic Series, an ongoing sequence that began during the 2021 Purple Party, where they first created mosaics and a mural for the celebration. This year’s Purple Party was a continuation of that creative collaboration, with additional mosaic portraits of women leaders of color. Latinitas held a press conference in early June at Austin City Hall, with Mayor Pro-Tem Alison Alter, and various council members in attendance as a way to announce the Gala.
Prior to the event, I was able to interview the honorees and let me just tell you, these women are incredible. They offered me advice and were kind enough to share not only the triumphs of their careers but also the difficult moments and how they overcame them. Dr. Colette Pierce Burnette, technology honoree and Huston Tillotson University’s first female President, gave me insight on why being true to yourself is the best advice anyone can take. Reji Thomas, arts honoree, and renowned glass artist showed me why community matters above all else. And Alice Ming Fei Yi, public leadership honoree and founder of Texas’ APAPA, made me realize just how much we as young people need to step up in guiding this nation. I am forever grateful for the conversations I was able to have with these women.
The women were the stars of the Purple Party Gala, but that didn’t make the beautiful art The Mosaic Workshop created shine any less. The portraits were a physical way of giving thanks to these inspiring women, acknowledging all of their hard work, and showing them how beautiful and valuable they are. Just like a piece of art. Once the portraits were unveiled, each honoree was able to come up and give their own heartfelt acceptance speech. The event was held not just to honor these women, but also to show the young women we serve the various pathways to success. To give them new role models in their own communities to look up to, and new stories to remember. In the end, a surprise seventh mosaic was revealed, which was dedicated to Latinitas’s very own founding CEO Laura Donnelly. Laura’s tireless work and initial concepts are what have made Latinitas the stand-out organization it is today.
J Muzacz’s lovely team of artists was able to truly capture the essence of the women we were honoring. The portraits are filled with smiles, and still, somehow leave the women looking stoic and strong. The pieces acknowledge the barriers these women have had to break. It shows them as the trailblazers they are, and that is what’s so phenomenal about them. While there’s no confirmation on whether or not next year’s Purple Party Gala will be blessed with The Mosaic Workshops art, one can only hope.
If you’re interested in working with The Mosaic Workshop, click the link we’ve provided or check out their social media for more information. If you’re curious about what else the honorees and I spoke about, make sure to check out Unrepresented anywhere you listen to podcasts.