In 2017, SFA explores El Sur Latino. To approach a multidimensional understanding of this moment in the U.S. South, we’ve enlisted over a dozen scholars, artists, writers, and entrepreneurs to reflect on what “El Sur Latino” means to them. Today, Charlotte artist, activist, and community leader Rosalia Torres-Weiner reflects on a mural she painted in 2012 for the Annual Latin American Festival in Charlotte, North Carolina.
Back in 2012, when I was commissioned to paint this mural depicting the Annual Latin American Festival, I remember feeling an enormous sense of pride about all of the wonderful things that my Latino Community has to offer (music, food, art, dance, and culture) and how the festival showcases everything in one amazing day.
I wanted to portray the two worlds that all Latinos have to live in: their Latin Community and the American experience co-existing and celebrating in harmony. As a Mexican, I will always be proud of my roots and my Mexican heritage, but each day I become more acclimated to living in the American South. I still can enjoy Mexican food like tacos and guacamole, but I am also enjoying new things from all cultures like arepas, pupusas, barbecue and biscuits!
The South is shaping and changing our Latino culture, but I also feel like we are shaping and changing the South. Five years later, I feel that things have changed, and we are dealing with new realities both culturally and politically. As immigrants, we have to face these new challenges with hope and resolve, but we can and will still take time to celebrate with each other and with our extended community.
If I were to paint the mural again (including President Obama at the time, Former President Bush, ICE), I would paint my new reality again – President Trump, ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) and my all friends and family coming together and having a good time again in 2017.
In the face of adversity, we have to remember where we came from, where we are, and where we are going, and we can’t forget to celebrate together!
Rosalia Torres-Weiner is an artist, activist and community leader in Charlotte, NC. Her art captures the themes, colors and rich symbolism of her native home of Mexico. In 2010, Rosalia shifted the focus of her work from commercial art to art activism, after witnessing the repeated injustices and dysfunction of our immigration system. Her work has been exhibited in venues including the McColl Center for Arts and Innovation, Levine Museum of the New South, and UNCC’s Projective Eye Gallery. Her public murals celebrate the rich history as well as the changing demographics of the South. She also uses her art to document social conditions, and to raise awareness about issues that are affecting immigrant communities such as family separation, access to public education, racism and moving beyond common stereotypes.