By: Luis Arjona Illustrations By: Nancy Miller
The leaves are changing (metaphorically, at least), the temperature is becoming moderate, and school is back in session – autumn is rolling in. October is almost a season in itself. I have fond memories that surround the excitement of the season: Halloween and the accompanying slate of films on ABC Family, pumpkin patches … and games of Lotería, the popular game of chance renowned in the area due to our Mexican and Latinx heritage. Sold in various themes, cards portray objects or animals widely recognized throughout Mexico. Illustrations on Lotería cards have become culturally iconic.
Nancy Miller is the program coordinator and assistant professor for the graphic design program at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi (TAMU-CC). After a summer residency at Otis College of Art and Design fell through the cracks, Miller used the nebulous timeline set by COVID-19 to explore her "Home Salty Home." Experimenting and conducting quick studies on her new iPad drawing app, Adobe Fresco, Miller honed her craft by expanding on a previous project she had worked on for TAMU-CC: a Corpus-specific Islander Lotería set the graphic design program had developed for the university's 2020 Homecoming in collaboration with assistant professors Alexandria Canchola, Andrea Hempstead, and her talented students.
Initially, Miller’s goal was simply to practice digital graphics. After a few images, she consulted with her friend, designer, and owner of Made In Corpus Christi, Nikki Riojas. After their charrette, Corpus Christi Lotería came to life. Corpus Christi is a beautiful area, and Miller decided to memorialize the city with her striking illustrations.
Miller admitted the selection process for people, places, and things to be portrayed on the cards was challenging. After extensive research, suggestions, and testing the willingness from the showcased businesses to participate, she curated her final deck – but after seeing how the first round of cards do, there are plans to increase engagement with the public.
“After the first games sell, we may poll followers on social media for ideas on card substitutions in the next game set edition(s). Many businesses have expressed interest in being featured, and we'd love to include them," says Miller.
Even brief interactions manage to illustrate the character behind the mindset of Corpus Christi Lotería. Miller makes a point of showing gratitude to her colleagues, collaborators, and the city she calls home. She expresses immense appreciation to Danielle Galindo, the magic behind their social media, and Grunwald Printing. Miller acknowledges the contributions of her community and colleagues to her development. It shows in the way she speaks about the area with care and exemplifies her endearment through action.
"Many small businesses have been crushed by the COVID-19 crisis,” she says. “I hope that this game will remind people of those great places that we all used to frequent and love, and renew our hope to gather there again soon. Corpus Christi Lotería will elect a different charity to benefit every six months or so, allowing the game to give back to the community by supporting the various missions of organizations that serve it."
Lotería cards are available online at corpuschristiloteria.com or in-store, curbside, and online at Made In Corpus Christi. Don't forget to play to win – and yell, "VIVA CORPUS CHRISTI!" when you do.