First Lady Jill Biden visits the National Museum of Mexican Art on her first visit to Chicago

First Lady Jill Biden spent the first day of her two-day visit to Chicago on Tuesday to honor those who died of COVID-19 and acknowledge the shocking impact the virus has had on Latin society.

But most of all she listened.

Biden’s first visit to the city as first lady was designed to commemorate National Hispanic Heritage Month, a 30-day recognition period ending Oct. 15.

The First Lady’s stop was intended to include some of her planned conversations – Spanish for conversations – a series of discussions and listening sessions she conducts throughout the country.

The first lady mostly listened on Tuesday and made no public remarks as she toured the National Museum of Mexican Art, which houses one of the largest collections of Mexican art in the nation. She mostly asked questions or commented on the exhibitions at the museum in the Pilsen district.

U.S. Senator Tammy Duckworth, U.S. Rep. Jesus “Chuy” Garcia, Governor JB Pritzker, Cook County Board Chairman Toni Preckwinkle and Mayor Lori Lightfoot were among the elected officials who toured the museum with the First Lady on Tuesday afternoon, shortly after her arrival. in Midway airport.

Garcia, whose district includes the museum, said the first lady’s visit is “a tribute to all the contributions that the Latin community in Chicagoland, especially Mexican and immigrant communities,” have made to the city.

The bite was serenaded by three 17-year-old members of the Chicago Mariachi project in a blue room at the museum called the Courtyard. This room displayed art and photography by students of Yollocalli Arts Reach, the museum’s youth initiative.

First Lady Jill Biden, right, talks to musicians, from left, Luis Marquez, 17, Suesan Jarquin, 17 and Edwin Perez, 17, all with the Chicago Mariachi Project during a visit and tour of the National Museum of Mexican Art in Pilsen on Tuesday.

First Lady Jill Biden, right, talks to musicians, from left, Luis Marquez, 17, Suesan Jarquin, 17 and Edwin Perez, 17, all with the Chicago Mariachi Project during a visit and tour of the National Museum of Mexican Art in Pilsen on Tuesday.
Tyler LaRiviere / Chicago Sun-Times

After the band finished their first song, the first lady asked them to make another. Then she asked them questions about herself.

Biden also visited three rooms at the museum and saw two Offer it is part of its celebration of the Day of the Dead.

That Offer are altars built in honor of deceased loved ones. The greatest at the museum focused on “the tragedy we all live in,” said the museum’s chief curator, Cesareo Moreno.

Pictures of people who died from the virus stood along the “COVID Memorial Ofrenda,” which occupied an entire wall in one of the museum’s rooms. The altar was also covered with candles, bowls, hearts, and small flags from around the world, including the United States, Mexico, and Chicago.

Moreno said the museum received over 200 photos after asking people to submit them to the exhibit.

“The memorial, I think, is a testament to the fact that not all memorials should be for individuals or celebrities … in history, but rather ordinary people,” Moreno told Biden and the elected officials who accompanied her.

“It is more than just works of art. The Day of the Dead every year is about telling stories, and I think that by telling stories, that’s how we keep them alive. ”

Carlos Tortolero, the founder and president of the museum, said the first lady’s visit is a “great honor” for the community.

Chief Curator Cesareo Moreno shows First Lady Jill Biden and local elected officials a Day of the Dead exhibition during a visit and tour of the National Museum of Mexican Art in Pilsen on Tuesday.

Chief Curator Cesareo Moreno shows First Lady Jill Biden and local elected officials a Day of the Dead exhibition during a visit and tour of the National Museum of Mexican Art in Pilsen on Tuesday.
Tyler LaRiviere / Chicago Sun-Times

A former educator, Tortolero, said Biden, an English professor at Northern Virginia Community College, is “one of our gang – she gets it, she understands it, so it’s like a double honor for us.”

On Wednesday, the first lady is scheduled to join Garcia and U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona for a chat at the Arturo Velasquez Institute. This school is a satellite campus for Richard J. Daley College, which is part of City Colleges in Chicago.

Her visit comes less than a week after President Joe Biden stopped in Elk Grove Village on Thursday to encourage companies to implement their own COVID-19 vaccine mandates or weekly tests.

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