comments 27

Not A ‘Latina’ Artist

My experiences are not Latina enough. There is a subculture within the subculture of Latino bloggers, painters and writers that I do not entirely fit into. I find myself forced to seek consolation in these groups, but have often found myself even more disappointed and isolated than before. When human beings create, they do not do so with only their cultural perspective in mind, but largely draw from their personal experiences. What a lot of subculture groups do is unknowingly create their own sets of standards to abide by. To preach how unique all Latinas are yet only praise those that fit the bill is extremely frustrating and hypocritical. If I am not writing about my diaspora, curly hair or urban hypebeast subculture, no one in the community wants to hear it. As Basquiat constantly stated, “I am not a black artist, I am an artist.” We must be able to see ourselves as humans first before our racial identity. Being accepted in your culture as an artist is extremely important, because whites dominate the art world for many socioeconomic and historical reasons.

To be fully accepted by neither the majority nor minority is the unfortunate reality for many children of immigrant parents. The group in control is constantly fighting to keep their power while the other groups are in a constant fight to control the way the world views them, because they are always portrayed in a negative light by the majority. The groups formed to support those shunned by the majority often also become groups that alienate once they have acquired a sliver of power.

Whether you are Black, Hispanic, Asian, etc., it is good to keep in mind that our culture is naturally ingrained in who we are. It is highly beneficial to learn more about your culture. I implore you to learn the beautiful language, music and food of your ancestors if you are not already familiar. And if are, keep learning because the U.S school system does not teach us so it is on us learn our history. Use these groups and communities to connect, learn and support each other. However, it serves no one when we try to mold ourselves to fit into a stereotype that was created by those in power. I am not just a woman with curly hair a quick witted attitude and rhythm. There are plenty of people that inspire me on a daily basis, many of whom aren’t Black or Latino. I refuse to become a big fish in a small pond. Let’s all swim together in the ocean and stop isolating other races and in turn also isolating our own. When creating your brand, don’t forget about your identity. Let’s not typecast ourselves, the rest of the world is already doing that without our consent.

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27 Comments

  1. Vesna

    Excellent, Ana. Not fitting into any mold is important. I love the part where you encourage everyone to learn more about their ancestral culture.

  2. I don’t feel like I have a right to comment on these kinds of issues because I come from a place of privilege, but in general I’ve come to accept that stereotypes, no matter their place of origin, from a majority outside group to intracommunity group, ultimately divide and hurt more than unite and help.

    • We are all part of this conversation. Thank you for commenting. Yes, stereotypes regardless of who they are created by or who they are made to affect ultimately hurt more than unite.

  3. Ana,

    What you are addressing is actually such a difficult and human issue from all sides. If you consider things like Mikhail Bahktin, Gilles Deleuze, which I would imagine with your philosophy background, you have sense of their arguments about the different. I refer to it as most generally as “the othe.” As soon as I see someone as different, I have created a dichotomy that can be problematic. It is in the admitting that I begin to understand the why of my perception.

    I know that you do read some of what I have written and I am glad that you have continued to raise your voice and question that which promotes or validates this continued (Deleuze’s idea of repetition) practice that separates rather than brings us together. Certainly understanding who we are and what creates our own unique stories is a beginning.

    Thank you for your words.

    Dr. Martin

    • Thank you for such an insightful reply again Dr. Martin. When a person grows up as the other it is only natural that they see those who are categorizing them as such as “the other,” as well. However, it is up to both sides to not continue the stereotypes, even as we fight to be equal. I completely agree, it is in admitting that we begin to understand the why and admitting as we say is the hardest part.

  4. mmdubale

    Well said! As someone who has studied artists from African and Caribbean heritage, most artists don’t want to be labelled as the ‘African artist’ or the ‘Latina Artist’ as it just draws attention to the stereotypes that most of western society regards as ‘African’. Especially within the UK. There’s so much power imbued in a label and detaching oneself from that label is very freeing especially if it can carry negative connotations. An artist is an artist. Only one identity of many, many more identities that have been socially constructed in this world! We are at the heart of it still all human beings. No exclusive boundaries please! Just knowledge and compassion, and fun 🙂

    By the way I adore your energy and posts! I’m like yessssssss. That’s how I feel 🙂

    • Thank you Merona. I completely agree with you. Unfortunately many want to profit from a movement and I see more and more artist subjecting themselves to a category created to hinder them. I also adore your energy as well. Just compassion,knowledge and fun. Well said!

      • Merona Verona

        It’s true, I guess it’s coming more from convenience. There’s an artist called Owusu Ankomah who has used iconography from his Ghanaian heritage in past works but focuses more on a higher concious awakening humanity in his works. Lovely bold vibrant hues, very spiritual which I can connect with. He also states; ‘I’m an artist who paints for humankind and who just happens to come from Africa.’ (http://www.octobergallery.co.uk/artists/owusu-ankomah/)

        I could write so much more on this subject! (In fact I have written an academic dissertation focusing on identity, Disaporas and visual poetry with artists of African descent (lol) which is why I feel so passionate about it!

      • This is beautiful. I understand the convinience part as well. Am looking into Owusu now. Thank you for sharing your knowledge with me.

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