Espejos: Reflecting the Latino community


Teresa Ortiz is a poet, spoken word artist, community organizer, ESL teacher—and a mentor for writers through the Espejos program for the past two years. Espejos, a mentoring program for emerging Latino artists, will present this year’s artistic work June 5 at 7 p.m.

Espejos 2008

Gallery viewing starts: May 22

Opening Night Reception and Performance: 6-9 PM
Thursday, June 5, 2008.
Doors open at 6:00 PM, Performance from 7-9 PM

Intermedia Arts
2822 Lyndale Ave. S., Minneapolis 55408

Free admission

Teresa Ortiz talked to the Daily Planet about Espejos, and this is what she had to say.

TC Daily Planet: What is Espejos?

TERESA ORTIZ: Espejos (“Mirrors”) is a program of Intermedia Arts supported by the Minnesota Regional Arts Council to support and develop new Latino artists in the community. The first year, the program worked mostly with visual arts. Last year, when I started, they had four disciplines – visual arts, dance, poetry and literary arts. This year they had just visual arts and literary arts. The visual arts included painting and graffiti.

This year we have two mentors: Cecilia Pino Godoy in painting and myself in poetry. I am also the coordinator.

We invite young Latinos in the metro area to send a proposal for what they want to do, then we evaluate the proposals and choose. This year we had only one mentee per category, and we also had people who had not only potential but also some experience, so we chose them as artist interns. The mentees get a scholarship but the interns are there to help the program.

Marianela Molina Rodas was the poetry mentee and Marion Gomez was the poetry artist intern. Misael Ivan Lopez was the painting mentee and Roberto Rivera was the artist intern for painting.

TCDP: Tell me about the Latino arts scene in the Twin Cities.

The Chalchiutlicue festival features Latino dance groups and artists at the Wellstone Center (May 30) and Powderhorn Park (May 31 and June 1). The Web site gives a schedule for events and explains:

“Chalchiutlicue is the scientific phenomena that occur with the water. It is the duality of the representation of Tlaloc – the rain. Chalchiutlicue is the snow on the mountains, the lagoons and lakes, the internal waters of the earth and the springs where the water flows out to the surface. …

“In our lifetime, we have witnessed the first privatization of the water, just as our grandparents experienced the privatization of the land of our mother earth.”

TERESA ORTIZ: We are diverse even in the Latino community.

In poetry, there are the Palabristas spoken word collective and other new poets being developed through different programs, such as the Loft. The Palabristas have published two chapbooks.

In painting or visual arts, Douglas Padilla and other people work through the Grupo Soap del Corazon collective, and other artists also are in the Twin Cities. There are not too many opportunities, especially for new talents, but it is being developed little by little.

And then there are the theater groups, like Teatro del Pueblo. There’s quite a bit of music, too, and dance – at least three groups of Danza Mexica (what is called Aztec dancing) and folk dance, too. Deborah Ramos works in another group for dance and visual arts.

TCDP: How do you mentor a writer?

TERESA ORTIZ: It’s difficult to work with one writer rather than several. With painting you can comment directly on their work, but with a writer it’s good to have other peers to comment on one another’s work.

The essence of my poetry comes from the joy for every small and simple moment of my life, from every learning experience, good and bad. Marianela Molina Rodas, Poetry Mentee Espejos 2008

One of my artistic focuses is to incorporate and interpret in my own urban style the traditional indigenous Mayan and Aztec art in a fresh new form that has not been seen or done before. As a graffiti artist I want to help secure and pave new roads for representing this rich urban underground art form in hopes of pioneering my genre for future generations. Misael Ivan Lopez, Painting Mentee, Espejos 2008

As a Colombian American, I refuse to assimilate into mainstream American culture, which for me means giving up all ties to my father’s cultural legacy. My writing strives to reconnect with this loss and truly understand my father’s experience as a Colombian immigrant in the U.S. Marion Gomez, Poetry Artist Intern, Espejos 2008

My artwork is a spontaneous combustion of raw expression and creativity. It is a reflection of my culture, my thoughts, my dreams, my loves, my fears and my world. Roberto Rivera, Painting Artist Intern, Espejos 2008

Both of the mentees I have worked with – Ana last year and Marianela this year – have had very clear ideas of what they wanted to do with their art. Marianela wanted to make a chapbook. She put together a chapbook with poems and songs and a story about her grandparents in Eucador.

She had a very clear concept of what she wanted. We looked at different chapbooks and how it should be put together. She designed the cover and everything else. We worked mostly on the poems. She would write poems and I would go over them and edit and give suggestions.

One of the things we learn is that poetry is what you want it to be. You don’t have to follow certain archetypes. Her poetry is very traditional, although she thinks that it is more alternative. Several of her poems are quite political. The two that she is going to be presenting on June 5 are quite political. But much of her poetry is religious, it’s about her family and about her life as a person and a mother. It’s a very interesting concept. It’s all in Spanish.

We also worked with the artist intern, Marion Gomez, a Colombian-American who writes mostly in English. She grew up speaking English, though her father is Colombian. So she writes a lot about her experience as a second-generation Latina and about her father’s experience as an immigrant. One of her poems, “Identidad,” is about her experience as a Latina who speaks English.

We have a collective of three poems – one that I wrote and one that Marion wrote and one that Marianela wrote. Mine is called “Teritorio del norte.” Marianela’s poem is about undocumented immigration. Marion’s poem is about identity.

The three painters made a collective painting about these three poems. It is three panels that can be moved in three different ways, kind of following each other into maps and lines that really reflect the identity of the Latino people.

Besides that there are paintings by Misael. He is also a graffiti artist, and they are doing a graffiti program called Game at Intermedia Arts, so he participated with that as well.

We tried to integrate everybody into collective work, supporting one another.