Hispanic Heritage Week: Local Immigrants Embark On Artistic Journey
As NY1 begins its week-long look at Hispanic Heritage Month, we take a look at some Manhattan artists who are embracing their heritage but say they won't be defined solely by it. NY1's Stephanie Simon filed the following report.
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It seems immigrant artists have a lot of baggage, and when it comes to making art, that's a good thing. Inside the Northern Manhattan Arts Alliance Gallery in Washington Heights, a new exhibit called "Immigrant" showcases the work of the neighborhood's immigrant artists.
"Hispanic artists are really contributing a lot to our landscape here in the U.S. It's almost like bringing a backpack, you know. You have all this like, you know, memories from home, maybe from your parents' home. Then, how do you mix that with your actual experience here," said NoMAA Executive Director Sandra Garcia-Betancourt.
Artists from across the globe are featured in the exhibit. But the largest number by far come from Latin America.
Colombia-born artist Pablo Alvarez uses mixed media on cardboard for his work.
"When I came here, my parents did not know the language so I was their translator," Alvarez said. "I had an extra job basically taking care of them and also going to school and looking for opportunities for myself. You know, it depends on what generation hispanic you are in the United States, I think that determines the difficulty."
As one might expect from an exhibition called, "Immigrant," many of the artists deal specifically with the issue of immigration.
A video installation by Argentinian-born artist Hector Canonge critiques pop star Shakira, despite her stand against Arizona's anti-immigration bill.
"She came as an artist and her experience is totally different yet it seems like she's reading from a script where she had to tell people in Arizona. 'I'm here to support our Latino brothers and I'm an immigrant too.' That's what she says, which is a little bit odd. Being that she changed her entire look from a brunette, you know, coming from Colombia, to a vixen, blonde, you know, pop star," Canonge said.
But no matter how much these artists carry their Hispanic heritage with them and draw on issues affecting their community, they do not want to be seen as hyphens. They want to be seen first as artists.
Northern Manhattan Arts Alliance Gallery Presents "Immigrant"
Now thru November 19