To celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month, we’ve spoken to our community of artists to find out what it means to them and why it’s so important in 2021.
We're celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month, four weeks dedicated to honoring *Hispanic cultures and recognizing Hispanics’ impact on the US and beyond. The celebrations run from September 15 to October 15 and feature events, exhibitions, and festivals.
Beginning back in the 60s under President Lyndon Johnson and then expanded under President Ronald Reagan in the 80s to run for a whole month, Hispanic Heritage celebrations have a well-established place in the US calendar - but are they still as relevant in 2021? There have been questions over whether we’re celebrating the culture in the right way. Some argue that a large proportion of Hispanic Americans have been born in the US and have cultural influences from both the US and their Hispanic heritage - a new version of culture we ought to celebrate.
Other concerns are that brands are monopolizing the month as a marketing opportunity instead of celebrating Hispanics and their contributions to culture all year round. The issue at hand is an intersectional one in common with many other celebratory and awareness months. With this in mind, we wanted to understand exactly what HHM* means to our art community and its influence on their work.
We spoke to three Hispanic artists from the Talenthouse and Ello community about why the celebrations are so important in 2021:
Bruno Angel is a Pop Artist from Manizales, Colombia, who focuses on faces, illustrating their traits with popping lines and color.
Bruno says: “Spanish Heritage month is important to me because it recognizes the advances that Spanish culture has made to the growth and development in the USA. In actual times, unity plays a key role in recognizing us as integral to society. This is very relevant nowadays and gives us hope for a future with more equality and opportunities for all.”
He believes Hispanic Heritage Month is still a fundamental recognition period in 2021: “Nowadays, 17% of the population has Spanish roots. Hispanic immigrants have been subject to harsh politics against them, and this has affected their quality of life. With the COVID-19 situation, things have been tough on Hispanic culture, which is why, today more than ever, it is important to recognize Hispanic contributions at a cultural level and also within sports and politics. It is key to work on breaking down disparity each and every day.”
Laura Ortiz (aka Soma Difusa ) is an Artist and Illustrator from Bogotá, Colombia, who describes her work as ‘Blossoming everyday life’: “My work portrays themes related to the Colombian countryside, the value of women as knowledgeable and the power of plants, mixed with magical characteristic.”
She said: “Spanish Heritage month is important to me because culture is formed by many roots and they all need to be visible, every story has to be told. I think this helps us to look inside and to the past and then understand the history that we all carry.”
Alex Izaguirre (aka Mamút) is a Graphic Artist and Illustrator from Valencia, Venezuela who’s been living in the US since the mid-90s. He describes his work as cultured, colorful, and creative, primarily focusing on music, Hispanic pop culture, and social justice:
“I try really hard not to get too political but sometimes there are issues that affect me directly or I feel the need to speak up for others and I think art is the best way I can communicate those feelings.”
Alex believes that it’s still very important that we recognize HHM: “A lot of us have already been out of our country of origin long enough to have children and grandchildren. Establishing that connection between kids who even though may have never been to the said country or ever will be, is a key component for making them feel proud of who they are and where their families came from - while at the same time educating other people and communities about our efforts and history.”
He added: “I think the best way to celebrate HHM is to be respectful about our culture and traditions and not just do it to feel inclusive. Celebrate it by supporting Hispanic businesses all year round, travel to our beautiful countries which have so much to offer, read and educate your families. In terms of brands, it’s important that they not only see it as an opportunity to sell and celebrate our history but as a way to uplift and support Hispanics who are making a difference today.”
This year the theme is “Esperanza: A Celebration of Hispanic Heritage and Hope”, one that seems fitting after a year that brought us lockdowns and Covid. 2021 is the year of the comeback - and we’re here for it! As part of the celebrations, we’d love for you to show us what Hispanic Heritage Month means to you. Please include ‘Spanish Heritage Month’ on all your artwork uploads so we can be sure to find and share with our community.
*The term ‘Hispanic’ refers to all Spanish-speaking people or those who have descended from Spanish backgrounds, inclusive of Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Mexico, Chile and Belize, and more. Some people who have descended from these countries also or alternatively identify as Latino, but most distinguish this by their language use of Spanish or Portuguese.
*HHM: Hispanic Heritage Month