Photographer Frank Blazquez is paying a loving homage to Chicanx culture in the Land of Enchantment. The photographer is showing the world what it looks like to be Chicanx in New Mexico to highlight the diversity in a shared experience.
Frank Blazquez wants to show the world what Chicanx culture looks like outside of California.
“I am an Illinois transplant, so I was fascinated, and eventually obsessed, with the differences in my ethnicity’s iconography,” Blazquez says about the inspiration behind his project “Barrios de Nuevo Mexico: Southwest Stories of Vindication.” “For example, in New Mexico, as opposed to the Midwest and East Coast, there is a strong connection to American geography. You’ll see Latinx people with New Mexico state symbols tattooed directly on their faces and skulls. But refreshing similarities such as hairstyle also struck me.”
The other reason Blazquez started to document these lives was because of the devastating and widespread impact of drug addiction.
Blazquez admits to once having a drug problem and eventually overcoming those struggles. Some of the people that he photographs are former drug users or others who have sought redemption.
“I started in 2016 just walking around Albuquerque’s Central Avenue in the War Zone earning my street photography badge. When I almost died a couple of times, I started to use my Instagram page more often to set up shoots and contact homies from my former days of opiate abuse,” Blazquez explains. “My friend Emilio created the random handle @and_frank13 and I kept it after he died in 2017 from drug complications; an event that made me work harder to present portraits of New Mexicans demonstrating faces of dignity, hence my project ‘Barrios de Nuevo Mexico: Southwest Stories of Vindication.'”
Photography was a passion for Blazquez that grew into something bigger than him as he learned.
Blazquez’s interest in photography and love of his culture combined to create a photo series celebrating the people in his life. Blazquez turned his lens to the people in his life to capture a beauty he saw in his own community that is often overlooked and ignored.
Blazquez is hoping to show people that Chicanx culture has spread farther than California because of an exodus.
“Homies escaping the three strikes law in California created an exodus in the ’90s that transferred new symbols from organizations, namely 18th Street, Sureños, and Norteños,” Blazquez explains about the Chicanx community in New Mexico. “As New Mexico is an expanse of serene beauty that attracts people to escape from former lives, in turn, symbols were exchanged such as black and gray tattoo and font styles with purist craft structure adhering to Southwest archetypes—fat ass cursive and serif fonts with ornate filigree stems.”
He acknowledges that California is known for its Chicanx and Latinx communities but there is so much more to teach people.
“LA fingers do not represent the millions of brown people outside of California and it certainly does not represent native-born New Mexicans,” Blazquez explains. “I learned the Latinx experience is entirely different in various locations—the California stereotype doesn’t carry itself across America. It’s enlightening to know that brown culture grows and adapts independently.”
The photographer also wants to teach people that the Latino community is vast and diverse.
“That the Latin-spectrum in America is not pigeonholed to any sole category,” Blazquez says. “Knowing that the labels Mexican, Mexican-American, Chicanx (a/o), Latinx (a/o), Hispanic, Mexica (not Hispanic nor Latino), Indo-Latino, Afro-Latinx (a/o) are just several of the hundreds of labels available to classify my culture’s diaspora is important.”
“Duke City Diaries” is a mini-series on YouTube that Blazquez has produced to take you deeper into the lives of the people in his photos.
“I knew the profound faces from my 2010’s New Mexico experience would make great art and explain an important POC narrative at the same time,” Blazquez says. “Creating the short YouTube documentary series “Duke City Diaries” was also an offshoot from my portraiture and one that created distinct reception. The hateful and racist comments kept me moving forward to show a larger audience that racism still exists.”
Blazquez is currently working on a new photo series called Mexican Suburbs diving deeper into his themes of Chicanx culture and the opioid crisis.
Updated on May 13, 2020, originally published on November 20, 2019.
Sure, it’s summertime but there’s nothing wrong with tapping into the holiday season for some good o’l comfort food. Especially these days. Latinos don’t settle for just one dessert option, we have plenty to choose from and you best believe a few tías will bring different ones. From pastel de tres leches to churros and all the drinks that go with them, there are some wonderful treats in store. Yes, more often than not, a good cafecito will pair up perfectly with your postre, but how about a Mexican ponche? Or a Guatemalan Atol? We rounded up our fave cold-weather desserts for the summer that every Latino should whip up for quarantine!
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These soft, delicate and buttery cookies are held together by the addicting caramel sauce, an elixir of the gods; dulce de leche. This option goes perfectly with a good old cafecito and chisme. That sobremesa is sure to get lit with all that sugar pumping up the tías and abuelitas.
2. Arroz con leche
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A foolproof winter classic. Arroz con leche is the ultimate Latino comfort dessert any time of year tbh. Try it calientito with a good amount of cinnamon and raisins. Provecho!
3. Buñuelos —Colombianos and Mexicanos
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The Colombian iteration isn’t quite a sweet treat as it’s filled with cheese, but the addition of brown sugar, butter and tapioca make it a dessert in our book. As for the Mexican version, they’re usually made during the winter holidays. Mexican Buñuelos are made of fried dough, covered in cinnamon sugar and if you’re not about fried dough covered in cinnamon sugar, idk what to tell you, there’s something wrong going on.
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Also known in Mexico as ‘Impossible Cake’, this delicious mass of goodness combines two great things into one god-sent hybrid. If you love flan, but would also like to have a slice of chocolate cake, Latina moms everywhere say; “¿Por qué no los dos?” The rich dense chocolate, topped with creamy vanilla flan, drizzled with a thick layer of cajeta is, quite literally, what dessert dreams are made of.
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There’s something so satisfying when biting into a warm, doughy, crunchy and sugary churro. You can find these delicious treats all over Latin America, and they’re particularly yummy when paired with a cup of hot chocolate! Extra points if you stuff them with cajeta or chocolate.
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Almost every Latin American household will have its own version of flan. From Puerto Rico to Costa Rica and everywhere in between, Latinos love flan. The creamy vanilla-flavored concoction is basically irresistible.
7. Natilla Colombiana
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This Colombian custard dessert is very traditional during Christmas, but we like to think that it’s also good at any time of the year. Natilla is a rich, custard-like dessert traditionally served alongside the deep-fried cheese buñuelos we told you about earlier. You’ll definitely have to forget about la dieta if you want to have this option.
8. Suspiro de Limeña
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Its name literally translates to “Sigh of the lady from Lima.” This Peruvian dessert is definitely sigh-inducing. The creamy, caramel-like custard, topped with a Port flavored meringue is an extra sweet treat for this cold season. The dessert originated in the city of Lima, and it is said that it gained its name after a poet said it tasted soft and sweet, like the sigh of a woman.
9. Pastel de Tres leches
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This quintessentially Latino cake is made with three types of milk: evaporated milk, sweetened condensed milk and whole milk. This is definitely not for the lactose intolerant. The cake soaks up all these liquids, making it a super decadent treat. If you’ve never had this traditional Latino dessert, prepared to be delighted, and have the coffee pot a-ready.
10. Ponche Navideño
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Traditional Mexican fruit punch is a hot, delicious concoction. Made with more than ten fruits including apple, tamarind, jamaica, tejocotes, raisins. This punch is spiced with cinnamon, clove, and piloncillo. It’s basically Christmas in a cup.
11. Camotes en dulce
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Mexican candied sweet potatoes are a must. Día de los Muertos, on Nov. 1, marks the beginning of Camote season. ‘Camotes Enmielados’ is made of sweet potatoes, simmered in a cinnamon and piloncillo syrup. This dish makes for the perfect fall treat.
12. Guatemalan Atol
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Made of ground corn, the flavors of this drink range from cinnamon to black beans to chocolate to cajeta. Guatemalan Atol, or Atole in Mexico, is a drink made differently in many countries of Latin America, but there’s one thing that remains the same everywhere, and that is that it’s a fall-winter staple you can’t miss out on.
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