Culture

A Photographer Is Capturing New Mexico’s Chicanx Community Through Portraits

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.

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Sleepy with his Daughter

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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.

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Homemade New Mexican Tattoos // #dukecity

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“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.

READ: Photographer Diego Huerta Took An Update Photo Of The Most Beautiful Girl In Mexico

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Photo Of Volcanic Ash In The Shape Of La Calavera Catrina Is Going Viral

Culture

Photo Of Volcanic Ash In The Shape Of La Calavera Catrina Is Going Viral

@essmealvarez / Twitter / Public Domain

Latinos are nothing if not superstitious. We see signs everywhere and quickly believe anything our abuelas tell us. The latest manifestation that is catching everyone’s attention is the image of La Calavera Catrina in volcanic ash. The volcano erupted in Mexico and the shape of the ash is honestly impressive.

The Popocatepetl volcano in Mexico put on a special show recently.

A resident living near the volcano captured a photo that showed the volcanic ash creating that face of La Calavera Catrina. La Calavera Catrina is one of the most famous symbols of the Day of the Dead celebrations. It is really easy to see the shape taking form in the volcanic ash that is rising over the city.

Naturally, the image is making its way around the world via social media.

Social media is good for sharing things like this far and wide. The internet loves a volcano eruption and Latinos love a superstitious or traditional sightings. This is obviously heightened in 2020 when travel is impossible and omens are literally everywhere.

People are using the natural phenomenon to educate people about La Catrina.

La Calavera Catrina was not always associated with Día de los Muertos. It was originally drawn by artist José Guadalupe Posada as satire to call out Mexicans striving to be European. The description for La Calavera Catrina included the word garbancera, which was a name given to Mexicans who rejected their indigenous backgrounds. The description further calls attention to the Mexican women who, like La Catrina, wore big hats and used so much makeup that their faces looked whiter and whiter.

Over the years, La Catrina became a symbol for Día de los Muertos.

Over many years, Posada’s image has become a major part of the Día de los Muertos celebrations throughout Mexico. La Catrina was always known after her creation, however, it was Diego Rivera who made her famous. The artist created a mural in the historic center of Mexico City across from Alameda.

Rivera added the body and dress to Posada’s original creation. La Catrina stands between Rivera and Posada in the mural that was painted between 1946 and 1947.

The history lesson is a welcomed accompaniment to the stunning natural phenomenon.

Who doesn’t like to see pieces of our history shared far and wide? The history of La Catrina is another moment to dispel the myths and misconceptions people have of Mexican and Latino culture.

READ: ‘La Calavera Catrina’ Is Getting Her Own Parade For ‘Día De Muertos’ In Mexico City This Year And We Have All The Deets

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Latinas Talk About Their Fave Dance Craze

Culture

Latinas Talk About Their Fave Dance Craze

Lawrence Manning

There’s no denying the fact that dance has a pretty firm place in the hearts of just about every Latin American culture. Across our countries and cultures, and thanks to native and Afro roots, Latin Americans know how to toe step and grind better than the rest of them. From salsa and bachata to danzón and merengue dance has permeated our lives making parties, ceremonies, and even sad occasions some of the most memorable and colorful.

As we celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month, we turned to Latinas to ask about their favorite dances from their cultures and how it has made their life better.

We posed the question “Latin America consists of many different cultural dances. What can you say about the ones from your país? We will be featuring your answers on one of our editorial pieces.⁠”

Check out the answers below!

“CUMBIA! And Joe Arroyo so beautiful said, ‘del Indio tiene la fuerza, y el Negro la fortaleza, que le imprime el movimiento.’”- lauraarendonn


“Ritmos africanos combinados con tambores pre-colombinos y la flambuya y elegancia de los gitanos y corte española. Mi herencia cultural es un sabroso pozole.”- mercedesmelugutierrez

“Chamamé, vanera… – Southern Brazil. Super important to the gaucho culture that southern Brazil shares with argentina and uruguay.”- its.lilas.world

“El baile de los viejitos, Michoacán, México.”- angelyly_



“Punta!! Like ‘Sopa de Caracol.’”- laura_gamez27

“Samba — originated in Brazil from men and women ( mostly from West African region) that were enslaved by Portugal — and brought to Brazil.”- la_licorne_en_velours_

“BOMBA!!! A style of dance in Puerto Rico heavily influenced by our African roots.”-xosamanthaotero


“Festejo… “- jesthefania

“Danza.”- karifornialove

“Cueca from Chile.”- calisunchine



“Huapango Arribeño- San Luis Potosí, Mexico.”-hijxsdetonatiuh



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