Students, graduates and professors discussed how identity inspires their art at a panel discussion hosted by the Latinx advocacy group PLUMAS at VCU on Feb. 22.
Each panelist presented work before answering questions asked by the moderator, then the floor opened for discussion. Panelists touched on themes of finding happiness, creating honor and celebrating identity.
“I’m a Latina artist. All my work is about my family that is from Puerto Rico,” said recent photo and film graduate Amarise Carreras. “I’ll mostly just talk about my experiences here in the arts and talk a lot about my identity and social issues and human rights.”
The panel focused on identity, with questions on art, inspiration and cultural background.
Guadalupe Maravilla, a sculpture and extended media professor, talked about his family and their traditions, his ancestors and how these things inspire his work.
Sculpting and painting major Davey Felix — a sophomore from Rio Piedras, Puerto Rico — is also inspired by his family. He was raised by his mother and grandmother.
“I feel like I just make art to honor them,” Felix said.
Jess Moreno-Caycho is a theater major with a concentration in costume design whose passion was handed down to her from past generations.
“I wear this ring and it was actually my great-grandmother’s,” Moreno-Caycho said. “She was a seamstress and my abuela gave it to me for my birthday because she knew that I like clothes and I like sewing and that I liked costumes. I think that is something that is inherent in me. That’s always something that I keep in mind.”
Backgrounds rich with history and diversity inspire these artists. But they still have to face modern political issues, such as undocumentation and the unknown fate of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which present challenges for their artistic fields.
“It’s getting so much harder to be a costume designer in general,” Moreno-Caycho said. “With being undocumented, queer, embracing my brownness and then acknowledging the privileges that come with all my different identities. Having DACA, that’s such a huge privilege compared to the rest of our communities.”
Moreno-Caycho said she is thankful to have PLUMAS, a group that socializes and talks about important events happening in the world.
Panel members Haziel Andrade and Eleazar Carreon also shared their stories. Andrade said she came to the U.S. without her parents and had to live without them until they came four years later. Carreon was born and raised in Richmond but his family is from Mexico.
PLUMAS members hope to continue these discussions and welcome the public to their upcoming events. More information can be found on the group’s Facebook, PLUMAS at VCU.
Emma Sue Sims Contributing Writer