Culture

The Smithsonian Is Opening The First Permanent Latino Gallery In 2021 Highlighting Latino Contributions

The Smithsonian Institution is one of the most known museum and research centers celebrating numerous American achievements from all walks of life. Started in 1997, the Smithsonian Latino Center has never had a physical location. According to the website, the center has worked collaboratively with other Smithsonian properties to include temporary exhibits featuring American Latinos and their achievements. That’s all about to change with the announcement that the Smithsonian will open its first gallery focused on the U.S. Latino experience, in the National Museum of American History.

The Molina Family Latino Gallery is set to debut in 2021 and will focus on sharing the stories of Latino communities in the U.S.

The new gallery space will explore Latino identities and include bilingual exhibits exploring the history and contributions of American Latinos. The first exhibit will be called “Making Home: Latino Stories of Community and Belonging,” and highlight the various contributions of Latino cultures in North America and their influence around the world. This will mark the first time a permanent gallery space will be offered at the National Museum of American History highlighting the Latino community.

A $10 million donation toward the gallery was made from members of the Molina family, who dedicated the donation in memory of their father, Dr. C. David Molina, the founder of Molina Healthcare.

The gallery will offer visitors many interactive pieces, including a podcast and a forthcoming app.

The gallery will have a distance-learning component where people can learn about Latino history from anywhere through podcasts, a mobile broadcast and a Smithsonian Latino Center app. These are all efforts by the Smithsonian to increase its Latino representation. They will include recent highlights of Latino artists and social issues that affect Latino-Americans.

“Latino history is American history, and we have a responsibility to reflect the stories and experiences of Latinas and Latinos in the U.S. today,” Eduardo Díaz, director of the Smithsonian Latino Center, said in a statement. “We’ll continue to do that not only through this future gallery, but also through our diverse programmatic, educational and professional development programs, as well as our work to unlock and increase access to Latino content across the Institution.”

The gallery opens up more possibilities to one day have a new museum dedicated to Latinos as a whole.

Many Latino advocates celebrated the announcement of the gallery in hopes that it one day leads to a museum dedicated to Latinos. For years, there’s been a call to create a Latino Museum on the National Mall. Friends of the American Latino Museum (FALM), a non-profit organization, has been key in bringing attention to this. Estuardo Rodriguez, executive director of FALM, says that the African American Museum took a similar route.

“It’s wonderful. This is exactly the road the African American Museum took. They also had a gallery in the American History Museum,” Rodriguez told the Washington Post. “We run on parallel tracks, and we will point to that in our efforts to fundraise and to pass legislation for [a museum].”

The gallery is a huge step forward in terms of not only Latino representation but the acknowledgment of Latino contributions in American history. Diaz hopes the gallery changes perspectives on what it truly means to a Latino in America.

“We want to expand people’s notions of what it means to be Latino,” Diaz said at the ceremonial signing of the donor agreement. “It’s not this homogenous experience. It depends on where you’re from. We want to show how we came together under this big label.”


READ: A New Museum Dedicated To Mexican Food Is Opening In Los Angeles Next Spring

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Migrant Portraits Won A Prestigious Smithsonian Art Award And The Artist Is The First Latino To Win

Things That Matter

Migrant Portraits Won A Prestigious Smithsonian Art Award And The Artist Is The First Latino To Win

National Portrait Gallery / YouTube

How do you illustrate the emotion of the U.S. immigration story without using any words? Artist Hugo Crosthwaite won the Outwin Boochever Portrait Competition Friday, for accomplishing exactly that. Crosthwaite is the First Latino to win the competition, held every three years since 2006 by the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery.

Born in Tijuana, Crosthwaite grew up familiar with the starting point of the Mexico to U.S. immigration story. Today, he lives in San Diego, California, where he was able to interview Latinos living on the other side. The work that won him a $25,000 grant, is just one part of a series of interviews. 

Meet Berenice Sarmiento Chávez.

Credit: National Portrait Gallery / YouTube

“Set to the soundtrack of a dissonant guitar and a raspy voice singing in Spanish,” The National Portrait Gallery describes the video on YouTube. “This animated video reveals the dreams and experiences of a young woman from Tijuana who seeks to take part in the American Dream. Black ink, gray wash, and white paint—applied by the invisible hand of the artist— take turns to expose Berenice Sarmiento Chávez’s humble background and the threat of violence in her home country that pushed her to immigrate to the United States. The film suggests that the immigration journey is seeded with constant danger, especially for women and children.”

While the video editing work conveys a story, Crosthwaite’s drawings are improvisational.

Credit: National Portrait Gallery / YouTube

We first meet Chávez in her Mexican home. Then, a calavera is drawn into the backdrop, seeming to either place an idea onto Chávez or minimize her story to that of a cartoon. The American Dream, as depicted by a Micky Mouse lookalike, seems to be a familiar character to this angel of death.

Crosthwaite captured at least 1,400 images to create the video.

Credit: National Portrait Gallery / YouTube

Crosthwaite told CNN that Chávez honored her story as she told it, with embellishments and all. “We are defined by the stories that we tell ourselves, either real or imagined, to deal with difficult situations in our lives,” he told CNN. “Rather than playing the role of journalist where I recount a factual event, I have left the video open to interpretation just as Berenice left me with her vague and unsettling story.”

One by one, the women and children that migrated alongside her died.

Credit: National Portrait Gallery / YouTube

Chávez continues on, with her head down, carrying just a couple bags. Soon, the black cloaks of her lost friends overwhelm the image. Surrounded in a deep shadow of presumable grief, her delicately drawn face is covered in the thick swipe of deep black paint in a single moment.

The next scene shows Chávez trying to make her life in the U.S., surrounded by unseen wealth.

Credit: National Portrait Gallery / YouTube

Soon, these men, too, are cloaked in dark black paint. Then, their faces are embellished with the symbol of U.S. currency: a white dollar sign. This time, the rest of the portrait is overwhelmed by white paint. Instead of being overshadowed by the black paint that marked the death of her fellow migrant Latinos, Chávez’s face is covered by a stark white paint. She’s in America now.

Then, we finally see an intimate look at her face, only to watch a gun be painted inside her world.

Credit: National Portrait Gallery / YouTube

In an instant, the gun fires, and she’s once again overtaken by a stark white paint, that erases the detail of her person. It’s almost as if the gun has a similar perspective to the grim reaper. The details of her life, or why she is fleeing everything she’s known, are no matter. To the grim reaper, to the gun, to ICE, she is a caricature of what ‘migrant’ means.

Finally, we see a small child, living under a dome of black paint.

Credit: National Portrait Gallery / YouTube

Is it Chávez as a child? Is it her own child, who seems to be dressed in American fashion, left behind, alone? There are no words to this story. Our guess is as good as yours.

The last jolt of emotion is felt in the credits.

Credit: National Portrait Gallery / YouTube

After watching Chávez’s migration story – its hope, its deaths, and the resultant family separation – the video tells us this simple fact. The cheerful audio and traditional Mexican music we hear may be the beginning of someone else’s story. The cycle continues. Hope that is lost to U.S. immigration policies that result in migrants being deported without their children.

READ: David Zambrano of “DezCustomz” Talks to Us About Family, Art, And When He Finally Thought He’d “Made It”

This Twitter User Made $1000 On A Petty Tweet That Became A Business Venture

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This Twitter User Made $1000 On A Petty Tweet That Became A Business Venture

@isaiahgarnicia/ Instagram

Romance can be a rewarding experience if you happen to be lucky in love. Unfortunately, not all of us are so favored to journey through love without heartbreak. In a time when social media is the biggest way we communicate with the world, sites like Instagram and Twitter can provide bittersweet reminders of our romantic mishaps. Seeing happy reminders of the person who broke your heart is especially brutal. The only thing worse than stumbling on an ex’s selfie is the discovery that they have blocked you all together. 

It’s with this in mind, that one enterprising Latino Twitter user turned a tweet with a petty joke into a money-making scheme that is helping the lovelorn.

Twitter / @IsaiahGarnica

Isaiah Garnica, a Los Angeles-based songwriter, tweeted the business proposition from his personal Twitter account last week. For $5, Garnica offers to comment “yikes” under the selfies of his patrons’ exs. Within days, the tweet went viral; being retweeted 36K times and with over 186K likes.

The songwriter told Buzzfeed News that the inspiration for the tweet came from an incident at a songwriting session in West Hollywood.

“I dropped my phone from a roof and I was like, yikes. I have to replace it now. So, I’m scrolling Twitter on my laptop (yikes) and saw someone was selling feet pics. Which is honestly…not that uncommon. Millennials and Gen Z are kinky AF. I was like, well, I’m not gonna do that, but I WILL slap a yikes on your ex’s photo. For $5.”

What started more or less as a joke got lots of attention and the requests for Garnica’s service started rolling in.

Twitter / @IsaiahGarnica

According to Buzzfeed News, Garnica received so many requests that he had to set up a few guidelines for his new service. He asked for patrons to specify which selfie he should comment on. If none was chosen, he would just comment on the most recent one. For the few cases who didn’t have selfies on their account, Garnica explained that he would comment on whichever picture ” they seem too pleased with themselves.” He also offered to comment “eek” under selfies for a discount of $3.

The response was so incredible that Garnica told Buzzfeed News that he had more than 200 requests. That means that the songwriter was able to collect over $1000 on his petty venture.

Such a large response to his tweet came with tons of comments ⁠— both for and against the money making opportunity.

Twitter / @ChristineFox

With side hustles being a necessary way for Millennials and Gen Z to make money in our gig economy, many tweets had to give it up to Garnica and his ingenious grind. There are many more dangerous or illegal ways that people are forced to take part in to make money so we have to applaud his creativity. He saw a niche and he filled it and that’s the kind of capitalism we can get behind. 

Some Twitter users saw it as a waste of time to worry over someone who is an ex for obvious reasons. 

Twitter / @mo_lee_kuh

This Twitter user accused Garnica’s patrons of being “petty females” and suggested they “get over it.” For some, a break up isn’t so easy to put behind them and Garnica’s service offers some final closure for those people. It’s easy to call this behavior petty but it serves a purpose in a harmless way. Perhaps this Twitter user is just upset they didn’t think of this business plan first. We know we’re a little jealous over it. 

For those who are calling Garnica’s service “bullying,” the songwriter had a valid defense of his patrons’ requests.

Twitter / @IsaiahGarnica

A few have accused his service of being mean spirited but the Latino explained to Buzzfeed News that this was never the intention of his tweet.

“Some say it’s a bully service, but it’s really not. What I offer is closure,” Garnica added. “Especially when one is blocked. The yikes is sort of minuscule compared to the broken heart that is putting in the request when you think about it. They can delete the yikes. A broken heart — not so much.”

Garnica also shared with Buzzfeed News that he has had requests to comment, shame or insult these exes beyond “yikes” but he refuses these inquiries. His reasoning, “I believe in karma. This might be theirs.”

We can’t argue with that rational and have to applaud Garnica for his micro hustle. Whether you support his services or not, he explained to Buzzfeed News, “As long as the ticker on that tweet is ticking, I am making money.” We respect the hustle.