Friday, June 15, 2012
Spotlight on Latino Ohio: Appreciating Latino Diversity
by Juan Díes, Curator of Latino Ohio
This year, the annual Cityfolk Festival will feature Latino Ohio, a special exhibition with a focus on the work of ten Latino artists and tradition bearers from Ohio and the Midwest. Festival visitors will be able to experience, and even participate in the making of a variety of Latino folk arts and crafts. Latino Ohio is being embraced by a new initiative led by the City of Dayton called Welcome Dayton: Immigrant Friendly City. This campaign aims to raise awareness of the benefits of a culturally and economically diverse community. In the spirit of diversity, Latino Ohio presents a broad selection of Ohio artists who come originally from different countries, including Mexico, Puerto Rico, Guatemala, Brazil, Argentina, Peru and Panama. Latino Ohio is being co-curated by Cityfolk's Director of Programs Dave Barber with the help of Juan Díes, a folklorist and co-founder of the group Sones de MexicoEnsemble (also performing at the Festival).
We often speak of “Latin” music, “Latin” food or “Latin” culture, but as this exhibition will show, “Latin” is hardly a singular identity. One of the central themes of this exhibition is to appreciate the diversity of Latino cultures that exist in Ohio. Juan Díes says “There are at least 20 countries in Latin America. They may share a common language and a common colonial history, but there are unique and distinct traditions in each of them that we ought to appreciate.”
A few of the artists featured at Cityfolk’s Latino Ohio exhibition include the following:
A native of Chihuahua, Mexico, Imelda is a dancer, choreographer, seamstress and hair and makeup stylist. In 2005, she started a Mexican folklórico dance company at St. Mary’s Church in Dayton with her two daughters and the children of other Mexican parents in the community who wanted to keep their kids involved with their heritage. The kids picked the name Orgullo Mexicano (Mexican Pride) for the company, which has performed at festivals throughout the region. At the Cityfolk Festival, Ayala will exhibit Mexican folklórico dance costumes and hairpieces.
Gloria Enriquez Pizaña
Born in San Antonio, Texas, Gloria moved to Ohio with her family when she was very young. She learned to cook from her mother, who made everything from scratch and never used recipes or measuring utensils. At the Cityfolk Festival, she will demonstrate the preparation of two traditional, festive delicacies, polvorones (Mexican wedding cookies) and capirotada (Mexican bread pudding). Pizaña will demonstrate the innovations her family has made to these recipes, by necessity and by choice, making this a truly emerging Latino Ohio tradition.
Born in Panama City, Panama, Martin is a ceramic and stone artist who makes historically authentic replicas of pre-Columbian art using clay, onyx and quartz. At age nine, he began learning ancient clay sculpture and stone carving methods and techniques from elderly Guaymi craftsmen working in Panama City. Now living in Fairfield, Ohio, Martin continues to favor natural raw materials over commercially available ones: he uses clay he collects from a lake near Columbus and makes his own dyes from plants he gets in Ohio and Panama.
A Yellow Springs resident born in Zagreb, Croatia, Yasmina immigrated to Entre Rios, Argentina, with her parents when she was very young. Early on, she learned the preparation and drinking of the traditional Argentinian yerba mate, a bitter, mildly stimulating tea that has been consumed by the Guaraní Indians since pre-Columbian times. Traditionally, yerba mate is served only at home or shared in intimate settings. At the Cityfolk Festival, Landaburu will demonstrate how to prepare and properly enjoy yerba mate.