Latino Arts Latest Exhibit “Celebrating Our Shared Roots” Explores the Cultural Connection of Milwaukee’s Communities

Connecting the Dots

The Latino identity has come to be a celebration of multiple identities and cultures that happen to meet inside one community. The foods we eat, the music we dance to, right down to the art we create, is the fusion of influences from every corner of the world. The Milwaukee nonprofit The Latino Arts is exploring these connections through the “Celebrating Our Shared Roots” exhibit, showcasing diverse pieces in collaboration with​​ The Mexican Arts Collective, the Little Eagle Arts Foundation, and Akii Maps.

Latino Arts is dedicated to providing Hispanic cultural arts programming.

Celebrating Our Shared Roots features pieces created by indigenous people from the United States and Mexico. The purpose of the exhibit is to show how intertwined our communities are and how important cultural elements find themselves reimagined by different parts of the world.

The series “Los Judas” by Gabriela Marván.
The series “Los Judas” by Gabriela Marván. (Picture by Latino Arts Inc.)

The exhibit found its inspiration two years ago when Managing Artistic Director of Latino Arts Jacobo Lovo met Melanie Tallmadge Sainz, the founder of the Little Feather Arts Foundation. Sainz had created a portrait of beloved Mexican artist Frida Khalo and used traditional quillwork to create the image out of porcupine quills. Shortly after, Lovo met artists from Akii Maps who composed maps of the United States with cultural elements integral to each state. Upon seeing the different methods artists use to culturally connect us all, Lovo began the process of putting together a collection of pieces to physically represent our connections.

“The overall concept is really trying to incorporate the inclusivity of who we are as Latinos. The more we explore our roots, the more we find in common.”

– Jacobo Lovo

Exploring Traditions

Many of the pieces take a look at how people evolve culturally and how through art many people retain a close connection to their heritage and their ancestors. The exhibit displays traditionally woven rebozos and clay potter; items that hold value in everyday use but contain centuries of tradition and connection behind their creation.

“It’s important for us to explore our cultures and heritage and how it developed,” said Lovo.

Keeping the Culture Alive

The Latino population is one of the fastest growing populations in the United States and the importance of cultural connection remains a goal for the Latino Arts.

“We are a diverse community…a multigenerational community. We want people to feel like they can reconnect [culturally],” Lovo said. “We want you to see yourself in the programming.”

The exhibit will continue until February 23, 2024, and is free to the public, but donations are appreciated.

Maria Peralta-Arellano is a Milwaukee-native journalist who focuses on sharing news from her local communities. She dedicates her work to accessibility and producing bilingual coverage focused on arts, culture, and politics. She looks to explore her community through a journalistic and creative lens.

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