Latino artists share their stories for future generations

Hispanic Heritage Month

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – Whether its writing, painting or theatre- artists use their platform for self expression. It’s a way of getting to know those who we may not be so familiar with.

Jose Cruz has been an artist for most of his life. His painting ‘Deeply Felt’ features a man standing hunched over with his head slightly hung.

“You can feel the tension in his body,” said Cruz.

And in his face

“Almost like giving into his feelings,” the artist said.

Circles painted throughout the portrait, a reminder of cycles we go through in life.

“It gets a little better then it gets worse. It gets a little better then it gets worse,” Cruz explained.

Cruz was one of only a handful of the Latino artists chosen to be in the CAM Raleigh’s 2020 North Carolina Artists Exhibition. A Puerto Rican-Columbian, his roots run deep through his work.

“A lot of the work that you see may be like from the Tajinos or Aztec or even Afrocentric so, I think its just a combination,” said Cruz.

As an art teacher, he said e explains to his students that art can be found everywhere.

“It’s in the clothes you wear, the sneakers you have on, the book bag you select, the chair you’re sitting on,” said Cruz.

Whether he’s doing graphic design or paintings, “I try to be as expressive as I can and make sure people know that I’m a Latino artist,” he said.

Cruz said Latino art cannot be put in a box. Latino artists are as diverse as the countries they come from.

“Everything you can think of Latinos are doing, have done and will continue to do,” said Rafael A. Osuba, artistic director at Artist Studio Project.

Osuba has spent the last 30 years advocating for Latinos in the arts. His Quixote Festival involves more than 100 days of showcasing all forms of artistry.

“We utilize the arts as a vehicle to be able to open up dialog and to create opportunities to get to know one another,” said Osuba.

And when we do open up Osuba said its then that we truly see each other.

“We’ve see through our events that when people are exposed to these artists and to their stories, they let their guard down and it feels more accessible,” he explained.

He said art is how historians will learn who we are today.

“What were the writers writing about, what were the poets talking about, what were the stories that were being created?” asked Osuba.

No matter you’re background, if you don’t tell your own stories, “We’re going to allow someone else to tell them and they may not get it right,” said Osuba.

After all, storytelling is what he says Latino art is about.

“Just live your life as it’s supposed to be. To just basically be true to yourself,” Cruz said.

And true to the stories we tell.

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