Inaugural Latino Art WKND Shines Light on Underrepresented Communities
By Jaxie Pidgeon
Reporting Texas TV
AUSTIN, Texas — Emerging local artists showcased their creativity during Latino Art WKND on Nov. 12-14.
The cultural celebration included art exhibitions, live music performances and a lowrider car show. The weekend kicked off at Springdale General and continued at other venues in East Austin.
In June, arts alliance _OFCOLOR organized Black Art WKND in Austin. Following its success, _OFCOLOR founder Steven Hatchett reached out to community arts advocate Monica Maldonado to see if she was interested in doing a similar event for the Latino community in Austin.
“I immediately was interested in doing so,” Maldonado said.
She recently started a nonprofit called MÁS Cultura to create opportunities for artists of color and to make art accessible to underserved neighborhoods.
Hatchett and Maldonado had the same goal in mind: to find more art from their communities and create opportunities for Black and Brown artists in Austin. The collaboration between _OFCOLOR and MÁS Cultura made Latino Art WKND possible.
“I really do believe that our strength is through working together and through unity. We created this event really to amplify the Latino art community, and also to really give some visibility to underrepresented artists.” Maldonado said.
Maldonado was reared in Austin by a single immigrant mother. She said she struggled navigating being Mexican and American, but there was something about art that made her proud to be Chicana.
“Art was really the first time that I really saw myself and really understood what it was like to be a first-generation,” she said.
Over the last few years, she said Austin’s landscape did not feel the same. She wanted to ensure Latino artists had support and spaces to display their work in the city.
“It’s important to recognize that Latinos are here in Austin, and I think in some ways we’ve kind of gotten lost in the growth of the city,” Maldonado said.
Over the weekend, 65 Latino artists shared 125 pieces of art with the Austin community. More than 20 pieces sold during the celebration.
MÁS Cultura curated one of three featured exhibits of Latino Art WKND. The exhibit at Springdale General in East Austin was Conexiónes (Connected). The nonprofit’s vision for the exhibit was to expand the vision of an inclusive Latino cultural arts landscape in Austin.
Filiberto Mendieta was a featured artist for the Conexiónes exhibit. He is a first-generation American who has lived his whole life in Austin. He said he embraces his Mexican culture through art.
“Culture is everything. It’s something that we had to save along,” Mendieta said.
“If we let it diminish, what do we have?”
Dorothy Vasquez, who attended the event, said gentrification made her feel less connected to her culture, but the Conexiónes exhibit helped her revive it.
“Stepping into here and feeling connected immediately to the work was like being home. It’s important that Mexicans and Latinos share their perspective and their voice on what community means to them,” Vasquez said.
Maldonado hopes to continue advocating for underrepresented artists and underserved neighborhoods to ensure Latino culture is preserved in Austin.
“There’s wonderful art in Austin, there’s no doubt about it,” Maldonado said.
“At the end of the day though, for me, I just want us to see ourselves in the art also.”