Latinos Organizing for Understanding and Development (LOUD), a statewide initiative focused on promoting collaboration between Latino arts and service organizations, artists, and the communities in which they operate, will be hosting its first annual Wisconsin Conference on Latinx Art and Culture on Oct. 15.
Oscar Mireles is the founder of LOUD and has been organizing the virtual conference which will highlight artists who have lived in or had significant experience in Wisconsin.
“A big impetus for this conference was the big exhibit that’s going on at MMoCA called “Box of Visions” (Caja de visiones). Some professor from the ‘20s and ‘30s collected all of these prints from Diego Rivera and all the masters and he donated them to the museum … and they are just amazing prints,” Mireles says. “As I was thinking about this big exhibit, I thought it might be a good time to put together a conference.”
Mireles created LOUD in 2016 to support his efforts as Poet Laureate of Madison, a position he held from 2016-2020. Mireles had been doing many things in the arts of late and felt like the timing was right for the Wisconsin Conference on Latinx Art and Culture. Originally, Mireles says, they wanted to do an in-person event at Arts & Literature Laboratory, a community arts space in Madison.
“The goal was to have 120-150 people at the event for the first year and really have it be a great opportunity post-pandemic to bring people together and make it a very exciting event,” Mireles says. “But then the Delta variant hit so we had to move it to a virtual format.”
The Wisconsin Conference on Latinx Art and Culture will have two keynotes and 10 interactive breakout sessions with artists.
“Because everybody and their brother is tired of virtual and Zoom activities, we’re going to structure the sessions and workshops around 18-minute TED Talks,” Mireles says. ‘We’re asking the speakers to talk about what sparked their interest in their arts, three lessons that they learned, and what they would have told their 15-year-old self.”
There will be a live Q&A, Mireles adds, so be “sure to bring your questions.”
Besides organizing conversations and outreach, LOUD has been devoted to memorializing the moment and the movement captured by the murals installed in downtown Madison during the summer of 2020.
“LOUD has been a vehicle for me to do different things and to really promote the many things that are going on in the arts,” Mireles says. “We’ve been involved in various things like the Art Party that LOUD organizes. We just hosted one last Tuesday at the Arts & Literature Laboratory and were able to stage it on the fifth-floor parking ramp.
“Our tagline is: ‘Free wine, free beer, free food, no speeches, and no one is going to ask you for money,’” Mireles adds, laughing.
Mireles is hoping for a big attendance for the Wisconsin Conference on Latinx Art and Culture and says that he is expecting a lot of high-school and college-aged students to attend the event. Zarco Guerrero, a sculptor, mask-maker and performance artist working in Mesa, Arizona, who has dedicated his life to creating positive social change through the arts, will be a keynote speaker at the event.
His wife, Carmen Guerrero, will be the other keynote.
“Zarco Guerrero our keynote speaker, he’s been here at Promega [Summer Art Showcase] a couple of times. I met him in 1976 when I was in college. His wife is the other keynote speaker and they do a lot of work in the Pheonix, Arizona area,” Mireles says. “They have done a couple of exhibits at Promega – even though they aren’t from Wisconsin, they have a long history of being here. We are very much looking forward to hearing from them at the event.”
Latinos Organizing for Understanding and Development (LOUD) is hosting its first annual Wisconsin Conference on Latinx Art and Culture on Oct. 15. For more information or to register, click here.