Yina Balarezo, A.B. ’97

Yina Balarezo Yina Balarezo
Yina Balarezo, A.B. ’97
Alumna shares the philosophy of art

As the oldest of seven siblings, Yina Balarezo, A.B. ’97, led the way to the University of Miami. Four of her family members soon followed, all graduating from the U with a degree in either business or architecture. 

“I came from Peru, and UM was the perfect place to feel close to my roots, as the gateway to the Americas and the world,” Yina shared. “We are five siblings with UM degrees; our family bleeds orange and green.”

That passion for the University is channeled into the award-winning campus museum. Yina glows when describing her love for the Lowe Art Museum, which has only grown stronger over time. She is especially fond of the Masters Collection, with the historic “El Greco,” as a personal favorite. “UM and the Lowe Art Museum are very special places to me. I started working at the Lowe in 1992 as a UM student until graduation. When I walked into the Lowe for the first time, I was awed by the collection.”

Why did you choose UM?

I found UM to be a cultural melting pot that fostered the different identities of culture in a socially aware and progressive way. This has become more relevant today, with multicultural students and faculty that provide keen insight into the future of this institution.

How was your experience here at the U, being involved with the museum while you studied?

I’ve worked in different positions here at the museum, which has enabled me to learn and grow as a museum professional. It has been a lifelong learning enterprise which has cultivated my mind and elevated my spirit. My work experiences pushed me out of my comfort zone and solidified the person I am today.

How has your philosophy major factored into your career?

Being a philosophy major, I have found that over the years, my background has been questioned as to the relevancy of my major in my current position. Specifically, if I would go back and change my major to center myself in the arts. However, I would be lying if I said I wouldn’t chose philosophy again. Philosophy has given me such great insight and foresight into issues that otherwise wouldn’t have been solved if it were not for my different approach to problem solving. Philosophy has enabled me to think outside the box.

When did you make your way back to the Lowe?

My work experience as a student at the University of Miami led me to want to come back and pursue a full-time position in the Arts.

I made it back to the Lowe in 2002 as a part time employee. I had a small child and I had the flexibility to raise him and still work in the place that I love. My philosophy degree motivated me to the need to stay involved in an academic institution.

Can you tell us what you love best about your role at the museum and the significance of your connection to campus?

The most rewarding and significant aspect of my job is how the museum transforms lives every day, and how our students are impacted. One of those experiences was in 2014, when I had the opportunity to travel to my native country, Peru, with the Art lab @ The Lowe students and a faculty member. Art Lab programs provide the opportunity for University of Miami faculty and students to organize and curate an annual exhibition.Seeing firsthand how the University provides such hands-on off campus experiences, and how it impacts the student, was remarkable, and one of my most memorable experiences. It truly was one of my most memorable experiences here at the U.

Why is it important for art to be incorporated in a variety of curricula, including science and medicine?

I believe it is as important to have art in a curriculum as science and medicine. It creates an articulation of emotion and empathy. The Lowe Art Museum has a robust program, the Fine Art of Healthcare, which connects art with healthcare.

Any details that you like to share about your pride in the museum?

I would like to share the Lowe’s value: The University of Miami’s Lowe Art Museum celebrates the power of art to elevate the human spirit, immortalize lives, and transcend time and place.