Charlotte is fortunate to have an active and diverse collection of Latinx artists working in the community. While we strive to share their work throughout the year, we especially enjoy celebrating the individuals behind the work during Hispanic American Heritage Month (Sept. 15 through Oct. 15). Read our 2020 profiles here.
*Featured Photo Credit: Skyler Parrow-Strong
“Fierro Pariente!” — Aguinaldo Santos
[Translation: “Let’s do it!” ]
Aguinaldo Santos is a Brazilian architect and photographer trained at Central Piedmont Community College. He is an artist and fashion designer, too. His creative passion — as he defines it — is to “make experiences with different materiais, colors and ways.”
“Drawings are like dreams,” Santos said. “My mom used to paint flowers, make some dresses when I was child. I’ve been drawing since I was 4, and I love drawing clothes, people and houses. Drawing makes me alive.”
At the moment, Santos is putting the finishing touches on a project that combines architecture and photography. He is creating a giant (like, so big you can climb into it) box camera based on a daguerreotype, the world’s first commercial camera created in Paris in 1839. Visitors will enter the camera to see projected photos and videos showing the history of cameras and historical photos of Charlotte.
The camera is an “extracurricular” project originally slated to be part of Charlotte SHOUT!, which was postponed until next year. With the help of the team at Blumenthal Performing Arts, Santos is hoping to temporarily install the camera, called Project 1839 on South Tryon St. in the coming weeks.
Tell Us What Art Means to You.
“Drawing made me architect
Drawing gave me many friends.
Drawing gives me much hope and too many dreams.
Drawing brings me to the USA.”
“Aunque dispersos estamos presentes. La comunidad latina es el canto de un millón de voces al unísono que canta, grita y llora con la misma pasión. Jamás perdamos la severidad de nuestro espíritu y nuestros genes.” — Pam Torres
[Translation: “Even though we’re scattered/dispersed, we’re present. The Hispanic community is the chant of a million voices that sing, yell and cry in unison with the same passion. Let’s never lose the rigor/severity of our genes and spirit.” ]
Similar to Aguinaldo Santos, Pam Torres moved to Charlotte about four years ago. Also like him, Torres indulges in a wide array of creative disciplines, including photography, graphic design, illustration and painting.”
“When I was little, I used to illustrate my own stories and do my older sister’s art homework,” she said. “I received art classes in Ecuador for a year and had an end-of-course exhibit where I showcased my paintings. I took acting classes, too, for a good bit of time.”
But, like so many creatives, she let her artistic pursuits lapse as she got older. Over the last year, however, she’s gotten back into the game, pursuing a full-time creative career and studying graphic design and advertising at Central Piedmont Community College.
How do you describe your artistic style?
“Humorously hostile and sometimes not necessarily beautiful. My most creative moments come when there’s something going on in my life. I’m not good with my words. That’s why I use art — to express and [convey] my feelings.”
“Somos frutos de La tierra que nos vio nacer, Ella corre en nuestras venas. Somos luz, que nos ilumina hacia un camino de Esperanza en nuestra Tierra nativa.” — Rosa Diaz
[Translation: “We are fruits of the land that saw us born, she runs in our veins. We are light, which illuminates us towards a path of hope in our native land.” ]
Rosa Diaz has been part of the creative community in Charlotte for more than 20 years. Diaz is a life-long creative. (“Since I was a child, I was always passionate with art, drawing and painting. Tempera paint, brushes and crayons were my favorite things!”) She describes her work as “spontaneous and cognitive.”
While highlighting spontaneity is a common self-description for abstract artists, using scientific terms is a little rarer. Perhaps that’s because Diaz has used “intense brainstorming sessions” to drive artistic design solutions since college.
When Diaz moved to the Queen City two decades ago, she worked for a Latinx radio station and established a freelance business designing prints and graphics for small businesses. Eventually, she met fellow artist Rosalia Torres-Weiner and began collaborating with her. And, she still is today.
“All these years have been very inspirational,” she said.
What’s next for you?
“I have a creative project hatched: LATINX POP PORTRAIT. It’s about digital art. I want to create in honor of our Hispanic heritage/legacy — a pop style, digital portrait for each CLT LatinX creative! Each portrait would have a positive and encouraging message.”
[NOTE: We’re sending her Latinx creatives we know and love, but feel free to reach out through Diaz’s Instagram feed and share a recommendation with her! All she needs is a name, an email and a high-resolution headshot.]
Please recommend a CLT creative we should be following.
RosaLinda Huezon: @rosebb_lade
“La Lucha nunca termina cuando no existe Justicia propia.” — From Migrant X, by Georgina Escobar
[Translation: “The fight never stops when proper justice doesn’t exist.”]
Isabel Gonzalez has been a performer since she started dance lessons at the age of 6. Ballet, tap, jazz, tumbling … she loved it all. And, she hasn’t stopped performing since.
“Anything that is modern and contemporary with a hip-hop or Latinx flavor is where I feel the most at home,” she said.
While dance was her first creative outlet, Gonzalez transitioned to band and theater in middle school. “I knew performing was what I wanted to pursue when I went on a band field trip to New York and saw WICKED on Broadway,” she said. “As soon as Elphaba flew over the audience in Defying Gravity, I knew then and there that performing was what I wanted to do.”
The theater bug may have bitten Gonzalez in New York, but she’s left her own mark in the Charlotte theater scene. She was nominated for a Blumey Award for “Best Featured Performer” as a junior in high school, before attending UNC Charlotte as a theater major. Since graduating in 2019, Gonzalez has become a staple on Queen City stages.
“I was one of the lucky ones that got a job in my career straight [after] graduation and have been performing and creating consistently locally for the past three years,” said Gonzalez. “I’ve gotten to originate roles in musicals and in plays, Ive been able to be a part of developmental workshops and creative processes.”
Ready to see Gonzalez perform? There are two opportunities this weekend.
As you can see below, Gonzalez has a full dance card with Charlotte theatrical productions. Here are her thoughts on two imminent performances.
The University of North Carolina at Charlotte
October 2-6 at 7 p.m.
“Migrant X is an outdoor show that talks about ‘the issues of immigration policies globally, nationally and locally through the lived migrant experience.’ This is a great show to come see for Hispanic Heritage Month. It’s directed by a Latinx Director — Carlos Alexis Cruz.”
Spoon River Anthology
Elmwood Cemetery in uptown Charlotte
Oct. 3 at 3 p.m.
Tickets are free.
“Directed by Chris Stonnell, Spoon River Anthology is an event with the Charlotte Symphony that features ‘a series of monologues and music that collectively tell the story of Spoon River, a fictional small town in Illinois, spoken from beyond the grave by the town’s former residents who provide accounts of their lives, losses and deaths.’”
Gonzalez’s Future Shows
Tropical Secrets: Holocaust Refugees in Cuba
Children’s Theatre of Charlotte
Madagascar: A Musical Adventure
Levine Jewish Community Center
Please recommend a CLT creative we should be following.
Carlos Alexis Cruz & Nouveau Sud: @Nouveausudclt
The artist profiles above are sponsored by OrthoCarolina.
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