Tierra, Arte y Cultura, a three-day-long virtual showcase of local Latino artists featuring a variety of artistic events including artist panels, dancing and singing performances, and discussions featuring local visual, culinary, and literary artists, was held from Oct. 9-11.
Wisconsin Mujer, a multimedia social engagement company founded by Araceli Esparza, hosted the event that was sponsored by the American Family Insurance Institute for Corporate and Social Impact, UW Hospital and UnityPoint Health Meriter, Dane Arts, and Madison Arts Commission.
Every day, and nearly every event, featured BIPOC artists and creators ranging from youth artists to adult professionals.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and social distancing orders, all events were hosted via Facebook live. However, Esparza, the CEO and founder of Wisconsin Mujer, noted that this actually opened up new avenues for Tierra, Arte y Cultura.
“It worked so well for us to be able to liberate the art from an institution and from four walls into a digital space…[it also] allowed money to flow directly [to the artists,]” Esparza tells Madison365.
During nearly every event, links were available to either patronize the featured artist’s business and/or pay the artist directly through Venmo.
Some of the most popular events were the dance performances.
Presenters included multicultural dancer and poet Natalia Hildner and a series of group performances by Ballet Folklorico de Maria Diaz, a Madison-based Mexican Folklorico.
One of the most viewed events was a dance performance by Power Dance and Lundu Afrofit founder, Francis Medrano, who specializes a combination of Afro-Peruvian dance and fitness.
Esparza noted that despite the majority of artists being BIPOC, especially of Latino heritage, the true focus of the exhibition was not race or ethnicity.
“Something that we explored is that the label that united us all wasn’t necessarily our ethnicity, but our passion to create,” Esparza said.
Esparza further noted that the Latino experience heavily influenced much of the art presented but Wisconsin Mujer wanted Tierra, Arte y Cultura to be about the art and insisted the heritage would follow suit.
“We focused on being an artist and everything else about culture and art came through with stories of our family, stories of our home, what you know what we miss from our culture, and what we don’t have here [in Madison,]” Esparza said.
Many artists, including Angela Puerta, Best of Madison 2019 Latin Artist bronze star singer and recipient of four MAMA awards, spoke about their art in relation to social justice and their specific Latino experience in Wisconsin.
Esparza mentioned that although social justice was not a featured theme of the event, she as an artist herself often uses her art as a medium for social justice and was able to bring some of that to Tierra, Arte, y Cultura.
“My content is definitely grounded in social justice and race and racial disparities and in filling those gaps. And, through collective community actions, like this type of event, that are more based on the meaning and entertainment, [there is an opportunity for] stimulating conversations,” Esparza said.
Nyra Jordan, the Social Impact Investment Director at American Family Insurance Institute for Corporate and Social Impact and one of Tierra, Arte y Cultura’s sponsors, also noted the importance of BIPOC art in this divisive social climate.
“Art is a powerful tool of expression when words cannot [be used]. The Institute is proud to support Latinx artists and provide access at a critical time in our history,” Jordan said.
Esparza and her constituents at Wisconsin Mujer are hoping to bring back Tierra, Arte y Cultura next year and have already received interest from many of this year’s performers.