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Hispanic artist displays work at United Community Center

Photo by Phoebe Goebel
Richie Morales debuted his exhibit Sept. 2 at the United Community Center.

“Art is for me the only space where light and darkness, the grotesque and beautiful, love and fear can integrate with each other to birth a fuller whole. And because of this, I keep painting,” Richie Morales, an artist said.

Morales, a self-taught artist located in Madison, Wisconsin, showed off his work at the Latino Arts, Inc. gallery at the United Community Center in his exhibit The Effects of Time on Memory – Los Efectos Del Tiempo An La Memoria.” The exhibit opened its doors Sept. 2 and closed Oct. 7.

Morales uses the medium of acrylic on canvas and the art featured lively colors with sketches of various items on top of the paint. The pieces themselves are symmetrical as if there is a perfect balance between both sides of the painting.

Through his artwork, Morales said that he can reflect upon his actions as well as how they are influenced by his culture and background.

“I paint about what is affecting me,” Morales said. “I reflect my culture through the palette of colors that I choose along with the semiotic in terms of nature and animals that I use.”

Morales said that his artwork in this exhibit was to portray the spiritual connection that he has with Earth, as it is a very important aspect of his own Hispanic culture.

National Hispanic Heritage Month takes place from Sept. 15 to Oct. 15, overlapping with the time that Morales’s exhibit is on display. Morales said he believes that Hispanic heritage month does not fully cover what it means to identify with the Hispanic culture, but still recognizes the importance of it as a celebration through his art.

“I understand the necessity we have to reconnect with our place where we come from and in that sense, I think it is a big opportunity to share our rich and beautiful culture,” Morales said.

Dinorah Cortés-Vélez, a Latin American literature & culture and an associate professor of Spanish, stressed the importance of the month to celebrate and recognize Hispanic culture but said that more people need to put effort into the month to make the impact it is supposed to make.

“I see National Hispanic Heritage Month as an opportunity to recognize, reflect on, and celebrate the rich legacy and contributions of Hispanic and Latinx communities in the United States,” Cortés-Vélez said.” Unless we commit to continue to work for a climate of social inclusion and equal rights for migrants, the celebration by itself won’t have a meaningful impact in the lives of these communities.”

Latino Arts, Inc. is an organization targeted toward bringing Hispanic and Latino cultural awareness and educational opportunities both in and out of Milwaukee. They are located within the United Community Center of Milwaukee and participate in both in-person and virtual events showcasing artists’ work and talent.

Cortés-Vélez said that organizations like Latino Arts, Inc. are vital to creating cultural advocacy in a segregated community like Milwaukee.

“This work is essential in terms of creating awareness about the beauty and richness of the artistic contributions of Latinx communities in this country, and more specifically in Milwaukee. This work is a lifeline in the fight for social inclusion and respect for the rights of these communities,” Cortés-Vélez said.

Morales said that it meant a lot to him to showcase his work at the United Community Center, as a lot of his inspiration and techniques are derived from his culture.

“Since childhood in Guatemala, I have experimented with textures and materials while working in trades of carpentry and construction work that today I integrate into my painting,” Morales said. “My life is marked by signs of socio-economic violence as well as with legacies of personal and community resilience.”

This article was written by Phoebe Goebel. She can be reached at [email protected]

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Phoebe Goebel
Phoebe Goebel, Editor of Diversity and Inclusion
Phoebe is the Editor of Diversity and Inclusion at the Wire. She is a junior from Hinsdale, IL studying journalism. In her free time, Phoebe enjoys thrifting and can solve a Rubik's cube in less than one minute. This year Phoebe is looking forward to covering a different section at the Wire.

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