By Hannah Karp

This year’s annual Hispanic Heritage Month at DCC focused on the Lives of Latina Women.

“The committee, this year, wanted to create a program that was both diverse in terms of types of activities and one that would spark the interest of the student body faculty and the public,” said Dr. Camille Sola, an associate professor at DCC, the organizer of this year’s events.

From September 21st through November 1st, Sola and her team hosted eleven events including an Artist Talk, performances, films and workshops.

Sola has, “always been interested in issues related to social justice, particularly racial justice since [she] was a small child.”

She earned her B.A. in Political Science and her M.A. in Sociology in Puerto Rico. She went on to work as an adjunct instructor of Sociology at George Washington University while completing her Ph.D. in Race and Public Policy.

Sola hoped that the attendees of the events would think more critically and be more informed about the diversity of the Latina community in New York. She, herself, “was able to learn a great deal about how identity is performed, the role that it can play in exploring, challenging and celebrating aspects of who we are, and the creative spaces that are being made to tell these stories.”

One particular event this month that highlighted the use of creativity to challenge and explore identity, was a presentation by Carmen Hermo, associate curator at the Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art, in Brooklyn, NY. She discussed the artwork in the show “Radical Women, Latin American Art” and the curation of this show, which contains nearly 300 pieces created by over 120 Latina artists, from 15 countries, between the years 1960-1985.  

Carmen Hermo described the unusual organization of the show into themes, instead of by country of origin or chronologically. The nine themes, Self Portrait, Feminism, Social Places, Resistance and Fear, Mapping the Body, Erotic, Power of Words, Performing the Body, and Body Landscapes encompassed many medium including videography, photography, sculpture, and textiles.

A number of the pieces were previously censored because they challenged the oppressive dominant regimes; including the patriarchal messages of the religious leadership. As well  some artists had not received recognition and were unknown to Hermo before her research?.

The show emphasized some particularly dark history of Latina communities in the United States, including the forced sterilization of Chicana women through a government-run program in Los Angeles in the 1960s and 1970s. Hermo described visitors’ shocked responses upon learning that such events happened, not only in the United States but, so recently.

Hermo examined the history of the show–emphasizing the need for representation of the Latina communities.

Cecilia Fajardo-Hill and Andrea Giuata, both professors, writers and art historians, and the original curators of this one of kind show, spent 10 years researching and traveling to meet the artists and their families.

They noticed a lack of representation of Latina artists and that many of the renowned Latino artists had women working in their studios, helping create their art without any credit. This dismissal of Latina art resurfaced when many museums rejected Fajardo-Hill and Guiata’s proposal for the “Radical Women, Latin American Art show,” stating that there was no audience for that kind of show.

Finally finding a location in Los Angeles at the Hammer Museum at UCLA, the show launched in September 2017 before moving to the Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art and then Pinacoteca de Sao Paulo.

Hermo’s presentation, as well as the many other events during DCC Hispanic Heritage Month, shed light on some of the conversations occurring in the Latina community and provided a wide artistic platform for the ways in which identity is celebrated.  It also exposed those who were not familiar with the diversity of the Latina community with some valuable information that may expand their cultural connections.

Planning for next year’s Hispanic Heritage month will begin in the spring. Sola welcomes any student to contact her if they would like to work on it with her or if they have a certain topic they would like next year’s events to highlight or a group or artist to bring to campus. Dr. Sola can be reached at camille.sola@sunydutchess.edu