Things That Matter

These Milk Cartons Are Bringing Attention To The Number Of Children Detained By The U.S.

During the 1980s and ’90s, photos would be put on milk cartons to raise public awareness about children who’d gone missing. 72U, a creative residency within agency 72andSunny, is now doing the same by installing a larger-than-life milk carton on Venice Beach to represent the more than 14,000 children who are currently detained by the U.S. government. The non-profit chose to highlight this issue because of the alarming number of detained children had risen from 2,400 in 2017 to over 14,000 in 2018.

The two-story polycarbonate Plexiglas milk carton is made up of 14,000 smaller cartons to represent each missing child.

CREDIT: CREDIT: Javier Rojas

The art piece titled “14,000 Missing Childhoods and Counting” is a project that took more than 2 months to build and was a collective work of eight different artists. Traecy Smith, 72U Residency Director, says immigration is one of the most contentious issues of our time and felt that art could be a way to shine a light on how drastic things really are. 72U has highlighted various social issues in the past and the agency felt this was appropriate considering the mass attention immigration received this year.

“Once I saw the number of separated children grew I knew we had to do something,” Smith said. “Society took their eyes off the issue but it was still happening and we knew if art could do anything is magnify the reality of the situation.”

The art piece was created from artists around the world including Mexico, Ecuador, and India.

2U residents Ginger Quintanilla, Taylor Alley, Tyler Hicks, Daniel Kim, Federico Zoppei, Jacqueline Miller, Raja Man, Wale Agboola, and Cristina Marquez came together to create the art piece. They hail from across the globe in places like Mexico, Ecuador, India, Africa, Italy, and Los Angeles. Many of the artists have seen similar social issues back home but were emboldened to create something after the Trump administration began separating families earlier this year. 

Smith says having a global collective of artists helped bring in various ideas and perspectives when creating the work. She says the issue of separated families isn’t just exclusive to America.

“By giving the art installation a global perspective, we acknowledge that the work and message isn’t just something that’s affecting people here in the U.S. but around the world,” Smith said.

Artists also consulted with many immigration organizations like the ACLU and Immigrant Defenders who gave input on the art piece. Smith says the art piece is part of a pending documentary on art and immigration as a whole.

Every milk cartoon inside the art structure has etchings on each box that represent aspects of children taken from detained immigrant youth.

CREDIT: CREDIT: Javier Rojas

Words like “Dad, “Freedom,” “Home” and “Future” are etched into the milk cartons to represent the wants of the children. Smith says she wants people to think of the reality for many of the children being detained and what they might be going through.

“We chose the milk carton for a specific reason,” Smith explained. “This is an item on every table and every family is aware of the milk carton and what it symbolizes, so that’s why we made this choice.”

The reaction to the art installation has been positive and has already gotten attention from the city of LA to possibly move the piece somewhere else in town for a longer stay. Smith says nothing is finalized but she sees the art piece finding a permanent home where more people can see the message.

The art installation has even gotten attention from people outside the U.S.

CREDIT: CREDIT: Javier Rojas

People from outside the U.S. have come to see the art piece because of its importance. It serves as a reminder of the lives for many in the immigrant community. Emilio Rosales came from Guatemala after he heard about the art piece on social media. He says the Trump administration’s policies are a humanitarian issue and feels that art like this highlights what’s really going on.

“What’s going on in America is sad and I see it all over the news and it makes you wanna do something about it,” Rosales said. “I look at this art and it makes me sad to know these children will never get to relive their childhood again. That’s the reality here.”

The art piece encourages people to engage via a QR code that links to a website created for the project. Visitors to 14000andcounting.org can sign an electronic petition and share campaign artwork on social media. The artwork is currently installed in Windward Plaza at the Venice Beach boardwalk.


READ: These Organizations Are Working For Our Community So Why Not Donate To Them This Holiday Season

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This LA Play Explores The Mystery Surrounding Frida Kahlo’s Death, Her Love Affairs, And Her Passion For Art

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This LA Play Explores The Mystery Surrounding Frida Kahlo’s Death, Her Love Affairs, And Her Passion For Art

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Frida Kahlo’s Death Has Long Been The Subject Of Debate —This Play Unpacks The Painter’s Last Week Of Life 

This LA Play Explores The Mystery Surrounding Frida Kahlo’s Death, Her Love Affairs, And Her Passion For Art

This Play Explores The Last Week Of Frida Kahlo’s Life —And The Mystery Will Have You On The Edge Of Your Seat

There have been many movies, television dramas and stage productions based on the life and works of Mexico’s most famous artist Frida Kahlo, but none of these stories had ever explored the woman’s last week of life. As it turns out, her death has been an open-ended and unanswered question mark. Many believe there was a cover up, and this play dives deep into the mystery. 

The award-winning playwright and actress, Odalys Nanin explores the mental, emotional and physical condition during the last week of Frida Kahlo’s life in her latest play.

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$25 Early bird tix at machatheatre.org

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‘Frida: Stroke of Passion’ peels away the secret cover up of the painter’s death and reveals what or who killed Frida Kahlo.

Until recently, Nanin, managed and produced at the MACHA Theatre in West Hollywood, CA, a company she founded years ago.

After writing and producing nearly a dozen plays, Nanin presented her last production at the MACHA last fall. The play was another original she wrote, this time about Mexico’s most controversial artist, and one of the world’s most famous painters, Frida Kahlo. 

Frida: Stroke of Passion, enjoyed a three-month long run last fall and received rave reviews and awards.

Frida Kahlo died July 13, 1954. Her death certificate alleges cause of death: “pulmunary embolism” but no autopsy was allowed and she was immediately cremated. The play explores her mental, emotional and physical condition during the last week of her life – exposing her love affair with famous Mexican singer Chavela Vargas, Maria Felix, Josephine Baker, Tina Moddoti, Leon Trotsky, a Cuban spy and her complex passionate love for Diego. 

Back by popular demand and with a grant from LA County Arts, DAC and CAC, “Frida: Strokes of Passion” premieres February 7 in Boyle Heights for six shows.

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In Nanin’s tale, Kahlo’s bout with bronchopneumonia and the loss of her right leg left her frail and numb, “Her right leg had been amputated from the knee down so she is either in her wheel chair or bed ridden.  She was under a lot of pain killers and alcohol in order to numb her pain. So she was between a daze of sleep and awakening.”

“Espero que la salida sea gozosa, y espero nunca mas volver.”

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In a diary entry written just days before her death, she wrote, “I hope the exit is joyful — and I hope never to return.” For these reasons, Nanin believes the artist took her own life.

In the play, Nanin delves deeper into Frida’s sexuality.

https://twitter.com/womensart1/status/1147401383706017792?s=21

“What initiated the spark of passion in me to write about Frida Kahlo was because as a lesbian Latinx I relate to her courage and fearless determination to stand up to injustice and to be the voice of the voiceless through her art and political activities.” 

The main players in the story are Kahlo’s tormented husband, Diego Rivera, the love of her life, but there were other lovers.

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Her passion didn’t just start or end with Rivera, there were several women in-between and one other man who also captured her heart, and during her final days, they all came visiting– taunting and haunting her with the memories they each represented. Women like Mexican singer Chavela Vargas, Mexican movie star Maria Felix, cabaret singer and dancer Josephine Baker, famous model and photographer Tina Modotti, and Cuban revolutionist/spy Teresa Provenza. There was also the ghost of Leon Trotsky, a man she admired and loved and whose murder haunted Kahlo for the rest of her days.

The production has also been released in the form of a book. 

Nanin has written a book capturing her play in print– the story goes far beyond Kahlo’s Mexican and European Surrealism, and her indigenous Mexican culture influence. Frida Kahlo hated societal rules and traditions at every level, and she felt shackled as a woman. In the book, Nanin explores her frustrations, her love affairs, her queerness and overall, her passion for art. 

“Frida – A Stroke of Passion” runs February 7–9 and 14–16 at 8 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays, and at 2 p.m. on Sundays at the Casa 0101 Theatre in Los Angeles. For tickets and more information, click here.

California Man Is Using His Culture To Create Hilarious And Super Relevant Mexican Greet Cards

Culture

California Man Is Using His Culture To Create Hilarious And Super Relevant Mexican Greet Cards

paper_tacos / Instagram

Jesus Ruvalcaba was an artist looking for more creative freedom in his life. Even after getting a job as an art director at eBay and Hewlett-Packard in Silicon Valley, the then 36-year-old felt complacent. It was a stop at a grocery store when he went to buy his mother a birthday card that a light bulb flashed in his head. 

“I looked at all these cards but couldn’t find something that resonated with my Latino culture,” Ruvalcaba said. “I felt that an entire population group was being ignored.”

That night planted the seeds of what would eventually become Paper Tacos, a greeting card business focusing on Mexican culture and traditions. From get well soon messages that read “sana sana colita de rana” ((heal, heal little frog) to birthday cards that read “sapo verde,” Ruvalcaba had tapped into a demographic that wasn’t typically represented in the greeting card business. 

“I knew I wasn’t the only one who felt like this,” he said. “This was more than just about a greeting card but seeing my culture being seen.” 

Ruvalcaba, the son of two Mexican immigrants, got most of his inspiration growing up in the Central Valley fields of California. He worked alongside his parents in the isolated artichoke fields where he learned to draw. 

Credit: Jesus Ruvalcaba / Paper Tacos

Ruvalcaba knew he wanted to be an artist at a young age and says growing up he would usually be found carrying around a sketchbook full of drawings. He didn’t grow up with much as his parents were Mexican immigrants who worked tirelessly as fieldworkers in the central California valley in cities like Castroville and later in Salinas. 

“My parents didn’t really know a lick of English so my drawings did a lot of the talking for me,” he says. “We didn’t have much growing up but they would buy me art supplies and always encouraged me to keep drawing.”

Those drawings would pave the way for a career in animation as Ruvalcaba became the first in his family to graduate college obtained a degree in graphic design at California State University Monterey Bay and eventually his Master’s degree. Shortly after, he would find himself in Silicon Valley working for companies like eBay and Hewlett-Packard as an art director. 

Ruvalcaba knew he could still do more with his talents. After attending a Dia de los Muertos art event in 2016, he met another artist selling Spanish prints with Mexican slogans. He was then reminded of that night at the market when he couldn’t find a Spanish greeting card for his mom. 

“It hit me right there and then that if I could come up with greeting cards that have Mexican sayings like “sana sana colita de rana,” I could tap into a market that was never really acknowledged prior.” Ruvalcaba said. 

After receiving encouragement from his girlfriend, Ruvalcaba put his illustration skills and graphic design experience to work as he produced his first set of 15 cards for 300 dollars. In Fall 2017, Paper Tacos became a reality. 

Credit: Jesus Ruvalcaba / Paper Tacos

About a year after the idea of Paper Tacos first came up, Ruvalcaba attended the same art festival from the year prior and sold his first greeting card for $5 apiece. The response to the cards was immediate and customers told Ruvalcaba about what it meant to see their culture on a product like this.

“It felt like my idea was validated in a way and seeing everyone respond so positively to Paper Tacos was just the cherry on top,” said Ruvalcaba. “From there it only got even bigger.”

In the following months of 2017, Paper Tacos made its launch and by the end of 2017, he had made $2,000 within just three months of launching his site. In 2018, he had made over $12,000 in sales and today has over 20K followers on Instagram alone. When he started the business, there were only 15 card designs which have now grown to over 100. He’s also branded outside of California and is currently selling his greeting cards at 25 stores throughout the country.

For Ruvalcaba, Paper Tacos hasn’t been just any business move or a little extra income revenue. It’s a tribute to his Mexican background and a reflection of his culture that he feels is being celebrated every time one of his cards is given. 

Credit: Jesus Ruvalcaba / Paper Tacos

When asked about where his inspiration for his greeting cards come from, Ruvalcaba says his parents. Those long days working along with them in the artichoke fields and holidays where all they had was each other. 

“Every card is a reflection of me growing up in a Mexican household and other people have connected with that,” said Ruvalcaba. “When I brainstorm ideas I just look back to my childhood.”

That connection is something special he says. While Ruvalcaba still has a full-time job as a designer in Santa Clara, if things keep going the way they are, Paper Tacos will become his main focus. 

Through Instagram, Ruvalcaba has begun working with more freelancers to keep growing Paper Tacos and get more artists opportunities. His business plan is to expand to other Latino backgrounds to work and reach out to Salvadoran and Nicaraguan artists so that they too can see representation.  

“This business has shown me how powerful this product can be and every time someone tells me the impact that these cards have had on a family member or a friend, it sticks with me,” Ruvalcaba says. “It’s a special thing to know a simple greeting card can do this.”

READ: Patty Delgado Is Changing The World Of Latino Fashion With Her Own Store Hija De Tu Madre