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Archive for the ‘Arts’ Category

From Discarded Belongings to Border Art

The migrant pathways near the Arizona border are covered with empty tuna cans, clothes and lost toothbrushes. Most Americans only know of the migrants’ stories through news coverage or the heated political discussion on immigration policy, but people living at the border have a much closer relationship to the stories. Several artists are collecting the items left behind on the trails and transforming them into sculptures and multimedia installations. The artists hope to make the migrants’ stories more personal for viewers—and maybe even, generate sympathy.

Alicia Fernandez contributed reporting to this story, which was produced in association with Round Earth Media, a nonprofit organization that mentors the next generation of international journalists.

We have posted several of Alicia’s photos below. You can also check out Alicia’s beautiful multimedia version of this story, published in El Diario de Juárez.

Frida’s Garden

Frida Kahlo is someone who many of us at Latino USA love. Her life, work and iconic unibrow never seem to go out of style. Recently, Maria Hinojosa and I got a chance to explore how Frida’s work is deeply rooted in the natural world. We spent the day at the New York Botanical Garden’s current exhibit, “Art, Garden, Life,” where Frida’s Casa Azul garden has been recreated. For many of the exhibit’s visitors, it transported them to a vacation-like reality. But for Maria and I (and many of the Latinos there), it brought us home.

Photo by Gabriela Sierra Alonso

Jorge Narvaez: Youtube Star Turned Immigration Activist

One in four Latinos say they personally know someone who has been detained or deported by the federal government in the past year. For Jorge Narvaez, that someone is his mom, who is currently being detained in Arizona. Jorge became Youtube famous when he uploaded a video of him and his 6 year old daughter, Alexa, singing “Home” by Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeroes.”



Since then, they’ve been on the Ellen Degeneres Show, America’s Got Talent and have starred in a Hyundai commercial.



Jorge is using his social media platform to bring attention to his mom’s case, and to talk about the hundreds of thousands of mothers being held in immigration detention, most who have committed minor crimes or no crimes at all.


Photo courtesy of Jorge Narvaez

Remembering Central America’s Wars

Photojournalist Donna DeCesare has covered those affected by war and gang violence in the United States and Central America for decades. Her new book, Unsettled/Desasosiego, documents her journeys to El Salvador and Nicaragua in the 1980s and 2000s as well as her work on gang members in 1990s Los Angeles. She is now a professor of journalism at the University of Texas at Austin. She talks to host Maria Hinojosa about meeting and living with her subjects, which she reflects on in her new book, Unsettled/Desasosiego.

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Interview Highlights: 


On her work in Central America

Cesare: “There was just something that was both different enough to intrigue me, with the difference, but familiar enough for me to really feel a sense of connection almost like a family connection to the people, and I really just fell in love with the place.”

 On witnessing the Contra war

Cesare: “Nicaragua was at war, the contra war was on. But the atmosphere in the country was much more hopeful and idealistic. People loved the camera, and they would come to you, and I would say they would kiss the camera, they were excited about meeting someone.”

 On the United States of America’s military involvement in Central America 

“We supported a military regime that was repressing people. And we sent a lot of weapons to Central America. And there was extreme cruelty in the violence death squads that operated there. And we did nothing really much to stop that.”






Paño, Art on a Square

Even though you might be living behind bars, the desire to create still lives inside you. You’ll grab whatever materials you can find and make something to pass the time, to express your fears and to make a statement about your life. In the 1990s, Chicano prisoners in San Antonio, Texas, took square pieces of cotton, called Paños, and created elaborate scenes with ballpoint pen. Some curators now recognize them as folk artist.

Maria Hinojosa went to the home of David Joralemon, a New York art collector and spoke to curator Martha Henry. Part of David’s collection is currently on tour in Venice.

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Photos courtesy of Martha Henry.

And why has paño making become illegal in Texas? Curator Martha Henry explains:

 ” Although private prisons have become profitable businesses, the governor is ultimately in control of the prison system and sets the tone for the wardens who run their facilities like private fiefdoms and enforce their own sets of rules.  However, it is the governor who encourages or forbids art programs and the flow of art supplies in jail and creates a supportive or hostile environment for paño making. 

 Texas Governor Ann Richards, whose term ran from 1991 to 1995, allowed rehabilitation programs to flourish which upset the historical culture of punishment in Texas prisons. She was defeated for re-election by George W. Bush whose war on crime re-instituted the trend toward dehumanization in prison governance.  Prisoners should suffer, so art making was not allowed. However, making paños with gang references has never been allowed and would result in confiscation and lock-down. 

 The paños I researched were made between 1989 and 1999 during the governorships of Ann Richards and George W. Bush.  In the past six years it appears that there has been a shift in prison culture:

Not since the early 1990s, when then-Gov. Ann Richards, a Democrat, shook up the historical punishment culture of Texas prisons by opening new drug-treatment prisons focusing on rehabilitation, has such a dramatic trend emerged, some experts say. Only this time, conservative Republicans are driving the reforms that began in 2007, as fiscal conservatism gained the upper hand over tough-on-crime policies.”

B2_PAÑOART_MARTHAHENRY_NOCREDITMartha Henry is a New York independent curator of exhibitions traveling to museums and university galleries throughout the U.S. and internationally.  Ms. Henry curated and organized the tour of Art from the Inside: Paño Drawings by Chicano Prisoners, a show of 120 ball point pen drawings on handkerchiefs by Texas inmates, which travelled to Wiegand Gallery, Notre Dame de Namur University, Belmont, CA: The Snite Museum of Art, University of Notre Dame, IN; Inuit – Center for Intuitive and Outsider Art, Chicago, IL;  The New England Center for Contemporary Art, Brooklyn, CT; and El Museo del Barrio, New York, NY between 2004 and 2012.

B2_PAÑOART_DAVIDJORALEMON_NOCREDITDavid Joralemon is an art curator living in the Upper East Side of Manhattan. His personal collection of Latin America and includes ancient art, Latin American colonial furniture and decorative arts, 19th century landscape paintings and drawing by American and French travelers to Latin America, 20th century ethnographic pieces from Panama, Surinam, Brazil and Peru, Chicano paños, and lots of finds from flea markets.

Trust: Growing And Overcoming Through Theatre

We talk about “TRUST: Second Acts in Young Lives,” a new documentary where a young Latina immigrant works with an Illinois based theater company to create a play from her harrowing true-life story.

“TRUST: Second Acts in Young Lives” aired on PBS WORLD America ReFramed series on October 29, 2013. Watch the full documentary here: TRUST: Second Acts in Young Lives.

B3_NancyKellyNancy Kelly is a director, writer, and producer. She has collaborated with editor and producer Kenji Yamamoto to create a documentary trilogy about the transformative power of art. The trilogy includes: “TRUST: Second Acts in Young Lives” follows a Honduran teen whose real life story of trauma is unveiled in a daring original play performed by immigrant teenage members of Chicago’s Albany Park Theater Project; “Smitten,” examines art collector Rene di Rosa, who is smitten by art; and “Downside Up,” a film about how America’s largest museum of contemporary art, MASS MoCA, revived Kelly’s dying home town.  She also directed and produced the narrative feature “Thousand Pieces of Gold,” starring Rosalind Chao and Chris Cooper, which was developed through the Sundance Institute. Photo courtesy of Amy Braswell.

B3_JesseCarloHeadshotJesse Carlo is a seasoned artist practitioner and scholar with over 20 years of experience in performance, direction, choreography and interdisciplinary arts education. Jesse is currently a faculty member in the Arts & Humanities at Miami Dade College and completing his Ph.D. in Humanities & Culture at Union Institute & University. Jesse is passionate about the ways the arts serve as a linguistic medium that surpasses the cerebral intellectual processes by simultaneously engaging the mind, body and spirit of the arts practitioner and observer. He firmly believes that through the arts we find healing and build solidarity.

B3_MarlinMarlin currently lives in the greater Chicago area. Photo courtesy of Amy Braswell.

Sugar Skull Makeup for Día de los Muertos

Día de los Muertos, celebrated November 1st & 2nd, is a Mexican holiday that celebrates the lives of the dearly departed. My grandmother, raised in Mexico, handed down the cultural knowledge that comes with this important holiday. She explained that the day is meant to honor, commemorate and celebrate the lives of the dead by creating altars and traditional pan de muerto (yum!). Although skulls are a part of the traditional imagery, she emphasized the lack of association with Halloween.

This brings me to the idea of cultural appropriation. Time and time again, you see celebrities costumed in sugar skull makeup, the latest being Sandra Bullock and Kate Upton. The beautiful sugar skulls, often decorated pastries, are obviously inspiring, yet the meaning behind them can be lost in translation.

I spoke to my grandma after creating this tutorial and the most surprising thing she said was that it’s actually very rare for Mexican people to create this kind of makeup. It’s mostly utilized in parades or high-scale events. Although Day of the Dead is celebrated throughout Mexico and in other parts of the world, the sugar skulls makeup has become a rare, yet special occurrence. The imagery became more prominent in America as Halloween rolled around.

When Latino USA asked me to create this tutorial, I jumped at the chance to explore my roots and create a spectacular look for our Day of the Dead celebration.

I drew out a sketch beforehand so I knew exactly what I’d be doing. I ended up changing my mind a few times, but it never hurts to have a plan. I’m not going to lie, this makeup can be long process, depending how detailed you get, but you can work faster by figuring out which products work best for what you’re trying to do. I shopped around and ended up getting almost all my products at Ricky’s NYC.

sugar skulls 2

Step 1: The Basics

I cleaned my face as usual and started with toner, moisturizer and primer. If you’re starting at night, you might want to use a makeup wipe and cleanser beforehand. The primer is great because it helps everything wipe off super easily once you’re all done. Everything is going to be covered in makeup so make sure to spread the primer evenly all over your face.

I used an eyebrow brush on my brows down, but don’t worry about it too much since they’re going to be painted down anyway. Some suggest gluing them down, but I don’t think that’s necessary. I also used a eye lash curler on my lashes. You can heat yours up with a a hair dryer for a stronger curl, but make sure it’s not too hot or you’ll burn yourself.

In terms of hair, I started with rag rolls since I’m going for a vintage feel and that’s normally how I wear my hair anyway. It’s super simple, but you can find a tutorial for this hairstyle on xoJane. I also think victory rolls would look wonderful with this look!

Sugar Skulls 3

Step 2: The Base

Starting with a stark white from a clown makeup palette, I dabbed paint all over my face, including my ears. Don’t worry if you get a bit of makeup in your hair, it goes with the overall look. You can use your fingers to spread the paint (with clean hands), but I recommend using a makeup tool of some sort. I used a Beauty Blender to start and a makeup brush to fill in the hidden spots, such as my hairline, lips, jaw and outside of my nostrils.


You’re going to want to avoid the areas around your eyes since that will be black, but it’s ok if you get some in the area since you can easily go over it with black paint. Once there’s a a bit of makeup on your face, use the white eye liner to create circles around your eyes, which you will later be outlining in black. I only put white paint up to the edge of my neck, which makes this look like a mask. You can cover your neck if you’re into that though.

sugar skulls 6

I decided that I wanted to do a 1920’s cupid lip so I used a Q-tip to wipe the white paint off my lips. Then I used the white eyeliner to create the outline I wanted. You can always go back and use a Q-tip if you feel the shape is not quite right. I wanted a really strong lip so I use a good amount of paint all around the covered section of my lips and spread it evenly with a brush. There’s now room to add lipstick later!


Before you move on, make sure everything is blended evenly and in the right spots.


If you want this look to last, you can use a hair dryer (set on cool) to dry your makeup and add setting power all over your face using a powder puff.


Step 3: Shadow Eyes

Next, I started my eyes by adding sparkly black eye shadow all over my eye lids. Don’t worry if your eyes are kind of uneven, just layer it on thick, especially near the inner corners of your eye. You’ll be blending with paint later. Next, line the inner corner of your eye with black eye liner since you wont be able to get paint there. You should have a smokey eye going on. Feel free to add multiple coats of mascara.



Next I used a black eye pencil to draw circles around my eyes. You can draw symmetrical circles or follow the outline of your skull bones, creating more of a sunken look. It’s all up to you! After I draw the circles in pencil, I traced them with a liquid black pencil.


Then I took the black paint from the clown palette and, using the brush, I filled in the circles with black paint. I painted upward and over, using my eyebrows as a directional guide. I blended the eye shadow and paint slightly where they intersect.


To give some interesting dimensional to the black paint, I added blue and purple eye shadow with a hint of purple eye liner. This created a subtle matteness and overall shimmer to the eyes.


Step 4: Flower Petals

The next step is also the most tedious depending how you go about it. I wanted really precise flower petals to surround my eyes so I used red liquid makeup. It worked like a charm!


I created scallop shapes, one by one using the tip of the red paint.


So far, so good!



Step 5: Lips

Next, I lined my lips with a red lip liner, using the outline I created earlier, and filled my lips with lipstick. Because of the heart-shape of my lips, the color started bleeding into the white paint. I had to do a few touch ups as I went along.


Step 6: Details


This detail was definitely the easiest. I used a Q-tip to outline the heart and filled it in black paint and a brush.




I used liquid eye liner for the mouth because it felt more precise when it comes to creating an end point. It’s probably that I’m more used to working with it since I have an obsession with cat-eye makeup.


I filled in the stitches one by one, careful not to mark the rest of my face.



I did this nearly last, but it actually makes sense to do this first in case your hand hits the designs on the bottom half of your face.

I used a white eye pencil to create the web, went over it with black liquid eyeliner and then went over that in black paint since i didn’t think the liquid paint was thick enough. I have a widow’s peak, which helped work as my guide.


Step 7: Cheeks

At this point, you can just play with your look. I didn’t get too intricate, but I did add additional red swirls to the side of my cheeks using liquid red paint. At one point, the red smudged, but I was kind of into it so I blended some more. I liked that it looked like creepy sunken cheek blush. That’s the thing with this makeup. Since there’s no right or wrong way to do it, you find new techniques and details as you go.


Step 8: Skull Nose

I almost forgot about the nose! There are a few ways you can do it. The side of your nose can be shadowed in for a sunken-skull look, but you can also darken the nostrils or create a heart-shape at the tip of your nose. I went with a sort of ace shape with shadows underneath my nose. I outlined the shape liquid eyeliner and filled it in with black paint and a brush.



Step 9: Accessories

For the finishing touch, I added a flower crown which I created last fall using aRookie tutorial. It’s pretty simple if you’re planning to create your own. All you need is a glue gun, fake flowers and a hair band. All of which you can probably find at your nearest dollar store.


Voila, you’re done!


I hope you enjoyed my tutorial. I certainly enjoyed making it!

For more beauty and style, follow Kristina at or on twitter at @tweevalleyhigh

Turning Art into Activism: Favianna Rodriguez

You have probably seen her posters at immigrant rights marches around the country, but never knew who the artist was behind the captivating images. Artist, activist, and California native Favianna Rodriguez joins the live show to discuss where the personal meets the intersection of art and activism, and how she sees her own artwork fitting into the fight for immigrant rights. She also talks about how California issues have had a larger impact nationwide.

Below are the images Favianna talks about during her interview:

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A1_faviannaFavianna Rodriguez is a transnational interdisciplinary artist and cultural organizer. Her art and collaborative projects deal with migration, global politics, economic injustice, patriarchy, and interdependence . Rodriguez lectures globally on the power of art, cultural organizing and technology to inspire social change, and leads art workshops at schools around the country. In addition to her fine arts and community work, Rodriguez partners with social movement groups around the world to create art that’s visionary, inspirational, radical and, most importantly, transformational. When Favianna is not making art, she is directing CultureStrike, a national arts organization that engages artists, writers and performers in migrant rights. In 2009, she co-founded, a national online organizing network dedicated to the political empowerment of Latino communities.

About Culture/Strike:

CultureStrike began in the summer of 2010 as a petition to honor the boycott of Arizona after that state passed its anti-immigrant law SB 1070. CultureStrike, which includes Wordstrike and Artstrike, seeks to organize artists, writers and other creative workers to strike back against anti-immigrant laws and attitudes. Their work is premised on the belief that culture, as the realm of ideas, images, and stories, is where people make sense of the world, find meaning and forge solidarity.

Eddie Zazueta: Bay Area Rhymes

Nineteen-year-old Bay Area poet and rapper Eddie Zazueta writes about hip hop, street culture, and life in the Bay Area. He performed two original pieces for us at our live show in Sacramento.

Eddie opened with his song “Around the Sun,” where he speaks to the influence of hip-hop in his life:

And he closed with a performance of his poem “South Berkeley,” where he talks about life in the neighborhood where he grew up, and how it’s changing.

Photo courtesy of Youth Radio.


Eddie Zazueta is a rapper and poet from Oakland, California. Eddie is a youth participant of Remix Your Life, a program of Youth Radio. Youth Radio is an Oakland-based media company that focuses on training youth in various forms of media production.

Forbidden Words and Forgotten Arts: Daniel Alarcón

Peruvian-born author Daniel Alarcón brings us a story about cultural adaptation and breaking interracial taboos, called “The Forbidden Word”. The story was originally produced by Radio Ambulante, the Spanish-language storytelling radio program he runs. He talks with Maria Hinojosa about the project, and discusses his new novel, titled “At Night We Walk in Circles”, about a young Latin American actor traveling with an avant-garde theater group. Special thanks to Radio Ambulante’s Martina Castro.

And here’s Radio Ambulante’s original “Palabra Prohibida/Forbidden Word” story, en español:


Daniel Alarcon (c) Adrian KinlochDANIEL ALARCÓN is author of “War by Candlelight”, a finalist for the 2005 PEN-Hemingway Award, and “Lost City Radio”, named a Best Novel of the Year by the San Francisco Chronicle and The Washington Post, among others. His writing has appeared in McSweeney’s, n+1, and Harper’s, and he has been named one of The New Yorker’s 20 under 40. He lives in San Francisco, California.

About Radio Ambulante: Radio Ambulante is a Spanish-language radio program that tells Latin American stories from anywhere Spanish is spoken, including the United States.

Draco Rosa: Lucha y Vida

Maria Hinojosa talks to musician Robi Draco Rosa about his fight against cancer, his life as a former child performer, and his latest album “Vida,” which features performers like Ricky Martin and Shakira. The former Menudo heartthrob gives insight into his view on life’s struggles and how they are reflected in his art. He is now launching his first tour since his illness.

Photo courtesy Digital Girl Inc.


Draco Rosa (born June 27, 1969), also known as Robi Draco Rosa and Robby Rosa, is a Puerto Rican Grammy Award winning musician, dancer, singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, record producer and actor. Born as Robert Edward Rosa Suárez on Long Island, New York and raised in Ponce, Puerto Rico, he originally garnered fame as a member of boy band Menudo in the 1980s. As co-writer and co-producer of many of Ricky Martin’s hits in English and in Spanish, he created the framework for the revolution in bilingual music careers that continue to dominate the charts to the present day. His latest album, Vida, is truly a celebration of life. He recorded it after he announced in 2011 that he had been diagnosed with cancer.

Big Screen Crossover: Eugenio Derbez

Conventional wisdom says that Spanish-language movies don’t do well in the United States. But Mexican actor Eugenio Derbez set his sights north of the border, and his movie “Instructions Not Included” had the biggest opening weekend a Spanish-language movie has ever had. He joins Latino USA to talk about his crossover project.

Photo courtesy Pantelion Films

B3Eugenio_headshot_wikicommonsEugenio Derbez is arguably the most popular Mexican comedic actor of his generation. Due to his incredible ability to transform himself into any character, and to his extensive career in television, film and theatre, Much of his popularity is due to his television programs Al Derecho y al Derbez, XH-DRBZ, Vecinos, La Alegría del Hogar and La Familia P. Luche, which have had many of the highest audience ratings.In recent years, his outstanding career and his enormous ability as an actor have paved his way into the American film industry, allowing him to work alongside renowned actors such as Adam Sandler, Katie Holmes and Al Pacino, among others.

“Instructions Not Included” is his cinematic directorial debut.




A Rita in Spanish Harlem

Actress Rita Moreno and her fans send Latino USA an audio postcard from her book signing at La Casa Azul Bookstore in New York City’s “El Barrio” neighborhood.


*Correction: In this piece, Rita Moreno says that Raul Julia won an Oscar. Julia did not win an Oscar. Benicio del Toro did for “Traffic”, making him the third Puerto Rican actor to win the award. Julia was nominated for several awards and won the Golden Globe and Screen Actors Guild awards, as well as the Emmy.

Salma Hayek: On Being Frida Kahlo (2002)

Maria Hinojosa talks risk-taking and filmmaking with actress Salma Hayek in this interview from 2002.

Photo courtesy of Miramax.

Rosie Perez: Rising To Fame (1993)

In 1993, actress Rosie Perez was a rising Latina star. Reporter Mandalit del Barco brought us this profile of her rise to stardom from humble Brooklyn roots.

Photo courtesy of Warner Bros Pictures.


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