CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas – As one of the Island University’s host location for Hispanic Heritage Month events, the Mary and Jeff Bell Library at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi is pleased to offer a collection of art and curios from Mexico and other Spanish-speaking countries for visitors to view and enjoy. The display, located on the second floor of the library through Saturday, Oct. 15, belongs exclusively to Jeff Janko, Bell Library Information Specialist.
“The collection of more than 60 different pieces represents many of the different places I’ve visited over the last 30 years,” said Janko. “I enjoy showing off my collections because even though many of the pieces may only have meaning to me, I hope they inspire people to travel.”
Janko, who has worked at Texas A&M-Corpus Christi for 18 years, has been to many different countries including Mexico, Spain and Guatemala. He and his wife will be visiting Cuba this winter.
“Traveling opens my mind,” said Janko. “The moment I hit the road, my mind is free to think outside the box. Travelling is refreshing and educational.”
Janko has travelled internationally since he was a child and this is what inspired his interest of Hispanic cultures.
“My parents had a love for Mexico,” said Janko. “They respected the people and their culture. It was always exciting to go with them to see new places, try new things and meet new people.”
Janko doesn’t just collect Hispanic art, he also collects Fiestaware dishes, hand-carved walking sticks, masks and Beatles memorabilia.
He says that every time he visits another country, he brings back as many art pieces as he can carry.
“When I go to a market or gift shop, I’m not going in just to buy something. I’m going to learn about the artist,” said Janko. “I like to talk to the people that make the items and find out about their life and culture.”
Janko, who is also a professional photographer, uses his trips to capture photos of the places he visits.
“During our trip to Cuba this December,” said Janko, “I will take hundreds of photos, and then bring them back to display at the library for the campus community to enjoy.”
The Bell Library has acted as a host site for multiple Hispanic Heritage Month events this year, including two public forums, a Hispanic poetry reading and a special display of books on the Hispanic culture.
“The Bell Library is a great place to meet for Hispanic Heritage Month events because we have long hours, we’re open to the public and we operate seven days a week,” said Janko.To learn more about Hispanic Heritage Month at A&M-Corpus Christi, go to http://hispanicheritagemonth.tamucc.edu/.