Art, Artist Frida Kahlo, Latinas

Can You Name #5 Latina Artists?

 

self portrait of Diego Rivera, Frida Kahlo, Lola Alvarez Bravo photographer
Self Portrait of Diego Rivera with Frida Kahlo by Lola Alvarez Bravo 1930

For Women’s History Month, the National Museum of Women in the Arts thought of a great way to get people thinking about women artists.

Their Twitter campaign is Can You Name #5Women Artists. Check out their twitter feed.

What may be more difficult than naming five women artists is to name #5Latina Artists, #5AfricanAmerican Artists, #5Native American Women Artists or #5Asian Women Artists.

Here’s a look at five artists who are Latina (there are many more, but for the sake of this post, we’re looking at five):

Lola Álvarez Bravo is probably best known however for the photographs she took of her friend Frida Kahlo, (see above photo). She was the director of photography at the National Institute of Fine Arts and was the first person to exhibit the work of Frida Kahlo in Mexico City in the early 1950’s.

For 50 years, she photographed a wide variety of subjects, making documentary images of daily life in Mexico’s villages and city streets

 

Print of La Tierra Santa by Cecilia Alvarez.
La Tierra Santa by Cecilia Alvarez

Cecilia Alvarez was born in National City, California. Her mother is Mexicana and her father is Cubano. Cecilia was raised between San Diego, California, USA and Ensenada, Baja California, Mexico. This cultural and political mix inspired much of her work.

I bought this print in Seattle, Washington in 1998 while on a trip with my three children and a nephew. The subject matter spoke to me.

Family Tree by Frida Kahlo, photograph by Libby Rosoff, flickr.com cc
Family Tree by Frida Kahlo, photograph by Libby Rosoff, flickr.com cc

Frida Kahlo’s work is by far the most visibly know among women artists. I picked an art piece not widely seen which is a painting of her family tree. It is on display at the Frida Kahlo Museum, Casa Azul in Mexico.

I don’t need to say much about her fantastic work since you’ve probably seen the various movies or books about this legendary artist.

mural in Los Angeles, Judy Baca
The Great Wall of L.A. by Judy Baca-flickr.com

This piece is by muralist and educator Judy Baca. This section is part of a greater mural in Los Angeles which spans centuries of events. The entire piece is 2,754 feet and began in 1976. Her murals and awards are too numerous to list but can be found here.

Soraida Martinez Verdadism Art Gallery
Soraida Martinez Verdadism Art Gallery

Soraida Martinez created the art form called Verdadism which combines the Spanish word for truth (Verdad) and the English suffix for theory (ism).

“My Verdadism paintings are about a deeper understanding of the human soul, tolerance and to promote respect for all human beings. All Verdadism paintings are juxtaposed with social commentaries,which are all based on my life experiences.”

Patssi Valdez was one of the founders of ASCO, an art collective from the 1970’s. Her work is housed in the Smithsonian American Art Museum as well as several other museums in the USA and has shown her work internationally.

This is one of my favorite acrylic pieces and if I could afford to buy the painting I would. Maybe it’ll come out in a print.

Painting on acrylic "What is she Writing?" by Patssi Valdez
What Is She Writing? by Patssi Valdez, offrampgallery.com

 

Explore the Twitter campaign and add to the list of women artists at #5womenartists. Share the info.

 

Books, California Department of Corrections, Female Offenders, fiction, Latinas, Strong Women, Women in Prison

Meet My Characters: Orange is Not the New Black

1012013-orange-is-the-new-black
Piper, main character in Orange is the New Black, Netflix series

When people ask me “What’s your novel about,” I usually say it’s a teenaged Orange is the New Black –the Netflix version, not the book- featuring a naive 17 year old mother who’s an immigrant.

I’ve been asked, by YA author Evelyne Holingue, to talk about the characters in my YA novel. Her novel, TRAPPED IN PARIS, took me on an adventure through the streets of Paris.Evelyne continues to take me on an exciting jaunt  through her blog and now through the Meet My Character blog tour.

I’m so glad she asked me to join the tour.

In case anyone wonders, I began writing this novel in 2008 before OITNB was published. I wrote it based on my 28 years experience working within the California Department of Corrections.

Now, I’d like you to meet some of the characters in my novel:

1. What is the name of your character (s)? Is he/she fictional or a historic person?

Juana Maria Ivanov is the fictional main character. She frequently has a look on her face just like Piper in the photo above. The similarities end there, but the description gives people a quick picture.

Juana is younger, Mexican, and without Piper’s resources or language skills. And, she is not like the Latinas featured in OITNB.

The antagonist in my story is Jester, who is one of the gang leaders. Juana’s friends are two outsiders, one an idealistic protestor and the other a pastor’s daughter.

2. When and where is the story set?

The story is set within the twelve foot chain link fences of a correctional facility in California in the late 1980’s. This was the time of “Lock ‘Em Up,” laws and when there was little recourse or rights for teenagers in the criminal justice system. Sentencing laws and due process were different for young men and women under the age of 18 years old.

3. What should we know about him/her?

Sweet, helpful and unintentionally funny, Juana is basically an optimist. Sometimes these qualities don’t serve her. She thought she was going to be part of the American dream when she married her first sweetheart, nineteen year old Alek Ivanov, a first generation Russian American that she met while working in a border town. When she has her baby, they move to Los Angeles  where  she learns that he is abusive, more so when he is under the influence of alcohol.

4. What is the main conflict? 

After a beating, Juana runs away and takes her baby to her sister. When she returns she is arrested for Alek’s death, convicted of manslaughter and given a six year sentence. She is heartbroken over his death and leaving her baby, who she is certain will forget her. She desperately wants correctional staff to believe that she didn’t leave her husband to die, but she has no evidence except her word that he was alive when she ran away.When she finds out that her sister can no longer care for her baby and her mother-in-law files for custody, she has to find a way to keep her child.

5. What is the personal goal of the character?

Figuring out how to survive prison, learning whom to trust, how to find help and how to stay strong are Juana’s goals.

6. Is there a working title for this novel, and can we read more about it?

STONG WOMEN GROW HERE is the working title of this fictional novel. To download a free 17 page excerpt you can use this link. SWGH is a quarterfinalist in the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award contest. Semifinals are in late June 2014.

7. When can we expect the book to be published?

There’s no definite answer on this one. If the story is picked up by Amazon it could be published within a year. If it’s not a finalist, I hope to find an agent to represent my novel.

 

Now I’m tagging Jennifer J. Chow, author of the award winning, The 228 Legacy, who is now typing away on her next novel.

Make sure you check out Jennifer’s post on June 16, 2014.

She has an adorable protagonist and I hope you will stop by to read about her story.

 

Abe Diaz, Antonio Mendes, Argo, Claudio Miranda, http://schemas.google.com/blogger/2008/kind#post, Inocente, Latinas, Latinos and the Oscars, Lupe Ontiveros, National Hispanic Foundation for the Arts, Sixto Rodriguez, Sugar Man

Latinos and the 2013 Oscars: Mixed Feelings

from Inocente’s FB: Daniel Day Lewis, Inocente, Filmmakers
Last night an article, “2013 Oscars see big loss for Latino filmmakers” by NBC Latino, said “Hispanic audiences had big hopes…, but it was an evening of mixed emotions with just one win for a Latino nominee (Claudio Miranda for “Life of Pi”) and three wins for films with Latino main characters (“Inocente,” “Sugar Man” and  ”Argo”).” 

The ‘mixed emotions,’ weren’t from the amount of Oscar wins, it was from the mixed feelings of anger and disappointment which put a damper on the positive contributions of Latinos actors, directors, designers, and stories. 

The anger came from comments such as these: 

Seth McFarlane’s equal opportunity lame joke when he introduced Salma Hayek, 

 “We’ve reached the point where Javier Bardem, Salma Hayek or Penelope Cruz takes the stage and we have no idea what they’re saying, but we don’t care because they’re so attractive.” 

This isn’t the first, or last, swipe that a television host will take at Latino accents. 

We heard it from Ricky Gervais when he recently hosted the Golden Globes and said he “…couldn’t f*** understand what (Antonio Banderas and Salma Hayek) are saying.” We hear from Ellen DeGeneres on the TV commercial with Sofia Vergara, “…well no one can understand you.” (I’ll never buy those products).

The disappointment was from the omission of Lupe Ontiveros from the “In Memoriam” gallery.


Felix Sanchez, chairman and co-founder of National Hispanic Foundation for the Arts, told Fox News Latino,

“U.S. Latino actors remain mostly on the lower rungs of official Hollywood,” Sanchez said. “The catch-22 comes from the disparity of the work: Latino actors of Lupe’s generation played mostly low socioeconomic roles, and despite this truth, Lupe’s filmology is substantial and many of her acting film credits are from films honored by their inclusion in the Library of Congress’ prestigious National Film Registry.”

Throughout her career, Ontiveros had been an advocate for breaking Latino stereotypes in Hollywood. In 2009, Ontiveros told CNN she was upset that she was continually being cast as a housekeeper, one she played over 300 times in her 35 year career.

“It’s upsetting to any culture when that is the only projection you have of that culture,” Ontiveros said. “You’re pigeonholed, stereotyped…when I go in speaking perfect English, I don’t get the part…”

You can be talented, win Oscars, Emmys, Golden Globes, whatever and the Latino actor accents become the butt of racist jokes or their contributions get left out, in front of several million viewers.There is still so much farther to go in getting the respect Latino’s in the film industry should receive.

Now for the other part of the mixed feelings, the positive ones: 
  • Searching for Sugar Man,” a movie about the life of singer and songwriter Sixto Rodríguez, a Latino from Detroit who became a prominent figure in South Africa during the early 70s, took home the Oscar for best documentary. He was called “one of the greatest singers ever” by the film’s Swedish director, Malik Bendjelloul, who accepted the Oscar.
  • Inocente” earned an Oscar for Best Documentary Short Subject. The film tells the story of a 15-year-old female artist – the young artist I blogged about – who takes on homelessness and immigration laws in San Diego, California.
  • Argo,” for telling the story of Antonio Mendes, the CIA operative who lived the real story and wrote the book “Argo.”
  • Claudio Miranda, cinematographer of “Life of Pi.” He was nominated for “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button,” in 2009 also.
  • Paco Delgado, designer for his period costumes of “Les Miserables.”
    from Huffington Post
  • For the several Latino/a actors, directors who made well received movies in 2012 and all of those nominated for awards.
  • For Salma Hayek, in her incredible dress and gracefulness on the red carpet, looking every bit of a movie star, not only a “Latina star.” 
There are many more good feelings to remember about Latinos and the Oscars, especially when we look to the future, which includes:
  • Abe Diaz, the 18 year old student from DePaul University, the winner of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ “The Oscar Experience College Search” contest for aspiring filmmakers.
Now if we could only get television hosts who knew how to crack a good joke without disparaging so many people. I’m not holding my breath on that one. 
Family, Health, Latinas, Latinas and sexuality, Latino culture, Menstruation, sexual health

Latinas and Sexuality: 70’s style

latinovations.com 

In a previous post on  cervical cancer awareness I touched on the topic of Latinas and sexuality. 

My experience is that it is often a taboo subject, one that is not discussed between Latina mothers and daughters.

In the late 60’s, early 70’s, the topics of  sexuality or sexual health for twelve year olds usually came in the form of “The Non-Talk.” 

“The Talk” can range from the first talk (menstruation) to sexual intercourse to the last talk (pregnancy). 

In my case, and  for those Latinas of my generation, “The Non-Talk” was usually along these lines:

“The Kotex are in that purple box…Keep your legs closed…Don’t come home pregnant…Wait til your married, only putas have sex before that…” 

or no conversation at all. 

This was the case in my pre-teen and teen age years. My mother didn’t discuss menstruation,  instead my friends had “The Talk” with me on the playground of my Catholic grammar school when I was in seventh grade. I was the oddball who hadn’t started my period  and I was  12 1/2 years old. “Oh my god, it’s kinda of gross, but kind of cool too, ‘cuz you become a woman,” was the gist of the conversation.

When I asked my friends who told them about their periods, all of them said their older sisters. Well, I was on my own. I was the oldest in my family and my school didn’t have sex education classes.

This ‘period’ thing sounded intriguing and yukky at the same time but I had to find out what I was in for so I steeled myself and right before bedtime I asked my mother (in a whisper because my younger sister shared the bed) what ‘periods’ were and when would I get mine. She screwed up her face, shot me a disapproving look and turned off my light. 

from mommymandy.com

One morning, about three days later, I woke up and found a pamphlet under my pillow. Yes, it was the Menstruation Fairy. The booklet described, in cartoon fashion, the wonder of menstruation. I couldn’t make heads or tails of the drawing of the female reproductive system, it looked like a fancy Y to me. 

That evening my mom whispered. “The box you’ll need is in the bathroom closet, in the back, the purple box.” Figuring out how to use these oversized overstuffed pads is another story. Can I get a witness? 

As I thought of this subject I speculated that perhaps my opinion was based on my age and generation. 

Maybe the topic isn’t as taboo as it was in the 70’s. 

Maybe parents having discussions with their sons and daughters about sexuality and sexual health improved in the last 40 years. 

Alas, this is not the case even after thirty plus years of sex education in schools:

  • A 2011 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) survey indicates that more than 47 percent of all high school students say they have had sex. Among students who had sex in the three months prior to the survey, 60 percent reported condom use and 23 percent reported birth control pill use during their last sexual encounter.
And for Latinas specifically:
  • While teen pregnancy rates have dropped across all ethnic groups over the past decade, the decline has been smallest among Latinas
  • The percentage of female teens using any method of contraception at first sexual intercourse was lowest for Latinas (57 percent), compared to non-Hispanic whites (81 percent), Asian Americans and Native Americans (77 percent each), or African Americans (68 percent)
  • Among teens, Latinas had the highest birth rate in 2000 (94 per 1,000 women ages 15 to 19). By comparison, the teen birth rate among African Americans was 79 per 1,000; among Native Americans, 68; among non-Hispanic whites, 33; and among Asian Americans, 22 (all studies cited in advocatesforyouth.org)

Religion, cultural norms, access to medical services,  language barriers, and the degree of acculturation (first generation versus third generation) can impact the outcomes.

Studies show that family and culture are very important in the lives of Latina teens. Parents and other family members can be significant in providing positive guidance and emotional support. 

I venture to say that providing an atmosphere of trust, age appropriate information and positive guidance will enhance any young girls development. 

It isn’t easy having a conversation about sex and sexual health, but it is imperative. I scripted out how I was going to discuss menstruation with my daughter when she was nine. I’m so glad I did because she began menstruating a few months later and she was able to tell me and her dad when it happened. (He went out and bought her flowers). 

Having conversations about sexuality, in a series of ongoing discussions, made it so much easier throughout the years with both my daughter and two sons. 

Who had “The Talk” with you? Did you have “The Talk” with your kids? Will you?