CHARLOTTE, N.C. (QUEEN CITY NEWS) – You never know when inspiration may strike or when two words might merge into something powerful.
“I combine my art with my activism, so I became an ‘artivist,'” said Rosalia Torres-Weiner of Red Calaca Studio.
Her process requires faith and conversation.
“You know I sit in front of a painting, and I wait until I get directions from my ancestors,” she told Queen City News. “I pray, and I ask my ancestors to help me… ‘Help me paint.'”
On this National Hispanic Heritage Month, we’re spotlighting local people to celebrate the Latino community’s contributions.
Torres-Weiner uses her brush to tell underrepresented stories and depicts the people she calls ‘the backbone of America.’ Art is how she introduces them to the community and the rest of the country.
“From the stories of our Latino community. This is very important for me,” she said.
Some of those stories are exhibited in places like Mint Museum Randolph. Others are now at the Gaston County Museum’s Bullpen Gallery.
The exhibit is called “Pa’delante Juntes! Forward Together!” and explores the experience of Hispanic immigrants in the area.
“My Latino community, they come to me, and they say ‘Thank you for telling our stories,'” says Torres-Weiner. “The non-Hispanic people they come, and they say, ‘Wow, I didn’t know about that. Thank you for telling and sharing their stories.’ So, I’m kind of like that bridge.”
If her use of color doesn’t speak to you, she’s found another way to convey the stories.
“My goal is with my brush to give them a voice, to give them that platform,” she explained.
Her free app provides what’s called augmented reality. Using technology, you can hear the voice of people in her paintings, like 19-year-old Manuela Sanchez.
The app lets you hear the subject’s story by holding your phone.
“The biggest misunderstanding about ‘dreamers’ is that we are criminals with no good intentions from this country,” Sanchez says. “I, myself, want to see this country thrive.”
Another painting is of Oliver, born in Mexico and considered himself a North Carolinian.
“Being an immigrant, especially an undocumented immigrant, the future has always been uncertain,” we heard him say, using the augmented reality app.
“They don’t know any other country than America… and they are Americans,” Torres-Weiner says of the “dreamers.”
She used to specialize in commercial art.
Now, ‘artivism’ gives her a chance to paint with purpose in a rewarding way.
“And through my art, I’m going to tell their stories,” said Torres-Weiner.