Giovanni Valderas ('07, '12 M.F.A.) is concerned that housing is becoming unaffordable in Dallas. So he placed piñatas in front of new housing construction around the Oak Cliff neighborhood to show what could be lost to developers in the largely Latino area.

His work helped earn him the 2017 Moss/Chumley North Texas Artist Award. The prize is given to artists who have exhibited professionally for 10 years and advocate for the arts. The judges specifically cited his Casitas Tristes (Sad Little Houses) project.

Valderas also has taught at UNT, served on the Dallas Cultural Affairs Commission, and now works as assistant director at Kirk Hopper Fine Art in Dallas.

"Artists draw influence from their community, often channeled into their work, which in turn pulsates back into the world," he says. "Because of this kindred relationship, they automatically inherit their role as advocate."

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