Especial Blog: August and September 2021

September 14, 2021

Comunidad Guest DJ: Carina Banuelos-Harrison

Carina Banuelos-Harrison
Photo provided by guest.

Carina Banuelos-Harrison just curate an exhibit at Museo de las Americas on Santa Fe that centered around domestic violence. It was powerful and inclusive, and was still welcoming and showcased the work and stories of victims. Banuelos-Harrison's work is rooted in the arts, but also providing space for community and healing. Get to know Carina a bit better and what she does for the community, and check out this amazing playlist she crafted below!

What do you do in the Denver community?  
I am founder, photographer and art curator of Art and Color. But most importantly, I’m an advocate for artists that are part of historically marginalized communities, helping them exhibit their work in art spaces and other locations is a personal passion and commitment of mine. My work and I bring the lens of intersectionality and equity to the local art community.

Tell me more about your background. 
My parents are from Mexico, I was born in Denver and grew up mostly in Colorado but also California and Texas. I grew up in a bilingual household with where there was always music playing. We all learned to appreciate music and the arts. When my siblings were playing  musical instruments, I gravitated towards the visual arts. Through grade school I was inspired by talented art instructors who pushed me to the best of my ability. Years later I graduated from the University of Colorado, Boulder with a degree in Studio Art and an emphasis in Photography and Digital Art. 

When it came to my artwork, I always felt it necessary to create art with a purpose. Telling the story of my Latinx culture was always at the forefront. Easily I found a home within the Denver Latinx art community. 

My most recent work has been curating the Somos exhibit at Museo de las Americas. The exhibit was a collaboration with Museo de las Americas and Latina Safehouse. The topic of the exhibit is about domestic violence within the Latinx Community. The 13 Latinx artists participating were paired with a of member of las Comadres Unidas, a group of Latinx Survivors, to help uplift their stories and normalize speaking about domestic violence, trauma, and generational trauma.  

Tell me more about your Latinidad.  
I am the daughter of immigrant farm workers. My roots, culture and social justice run deep and are important to me. This is seen in my art curating and artwork. Also being a be part of the Latinx Denver art community is wonderful. I enjoy making connections and collaborating with other like-minded people.  

Why does representation matter in your community work? 
Representation matters within in the arts because there are so many important topics and stories to tell within our BIPOC communities. One of my favorite sayings is “Nothing about us, without us, is for us.” I think about that every day. I have worked as an artist and art administrator in the Metro area. When working is these spaces, I saw/see the lack of representation of the BIPOC community. I am not afraid to voice my concern and help make the important change. I have learned that it’s okay to disrupt the current system to help include those that are so often overlooked.  
What is one way the community can uplift Latin work/voices/art: 
 Supporting your local BIPOC and Latinx artists and curators is important. Also listening to important issues happening within the community and collaborating to make positive generational change.   

August 17, 2021

Comunidad Guest DJ: Mia Rincon

Mia Rincon
Photo Courtesy of Guest.

Mia makes us look good. I mean "us" as in Indie 102.3. Mia is our graphic designer, and I absolutely love everything she touches (Mia please just design my life). She's also all chingona - and relatively new to our community. A daughter of DR immigrants, she's got a ton of work she wants to do surrounding storytelling and her art. I am loving getting to know Mia, I'm super excited for you to, also - and be sure to check out this fire playlist below!

What do you do in the Denver community: 
I am an artist, a lover and sharer of music, a graphic designer at Colorado Public Radio, plant and animal mama, una ciguapa. 

I spend my days thinking about how to bring ideas to life and tell stories through design and illustration. I love having the opportunity to distill ideas and information into something that anyone can understand.

Tell me more about your background:
I was born in Queens, New York and was raised in Orlando, Florida. At 13, I moved with my family to the Dominican Republic where I’d spend the next decade going to school, getting a degree in advertising and design, and immersing myself in the local alternative Dominican music scene. Working alongside my best friends, we collaborated on a music blog called La Casetera. We’d go to local shows, capturing photos, writing reviews, and producing videos. It has always been a passion of mine to explore and share new and interesting music, especially music made by latinx artists, which explains my love for Especial and Indie so much. 

At the same time, fresh out of college, I was exploring my design career and seeking job opportunities in the US. Art is something that was instilled in me from an early age. There was a time I thought I’d become a photographer. I enjoyed creating things (poorly) in MS Paint and then in Photoshop, so I was thrilled when it was time to take design classes in college. By now I’ve had the opportunity to create campaigns around police reform, justice reform, drug reform, health reform, wealth reform, and LGBTQ+ equality. I never want to stop telling those stories through design. I also never want to stop telling the story of my heritage through art. I like exploring my culture, it’s oddities and it’s folklore through illustration. It helps me understand myself better and is a form of therapy. 

I have focused on advancing my design career ever since I left the DR, in NY, in OR and now in colorful CO. I’d first visited Colorado in 2018, loved it, and in 2019 had the opportunity to move out to Denver. During the COVID-19 pandemic, I was left unemployed for a while until landing the job with CPR. I feel like I’ve only just begun to re-integrate myself and am excited to become more acquainted with the Denver community. 

Tell me more about your Latinidad:
I am a first generation US citizen, born to two Dominican immigrants from El Cibao. I was born and grew up primarily in the US, but my heart is at home in the DR, where I spent my most formative years.

When my family moved from FL to the DR, I was not thrilled, to say the least. I was moving to a country where I didn’t even know how to speak the language correctly. I grew up understanding my parents when they communicated with me but never speaking, reading and writing in Spanish. Sometimes I feel like I put English on hold in my early teens to learn Spanish and never got to learn enough English either! Even today I have an “American” accent in Spanish. 

As I learned and gained friends, things got better over the years. I learned to appreciate the city’s liveliness, the chaos of the streets and the humor. And even being completely put off by the county’s fucked up history, or its shit politics, the land remains something my body is naturally drawn to. That and the fried cheese. I visit as often as I can. My family and most of my friends live there. 

Why does representation matter in your community work:
It matters to see yourself in what you love to do. It uplifts and gives hope to others, so that they can reach their own goals. It shapes what we imagine to be possible for ourselves. Without representation you have no face, and no voice. 

It’s so important to create spaces to amplify underrepresented voices, as well as fund and provide outlets for the talented folk in the BIPOC and LGBTQ+ communities to hone their craft. 

What is one way the community can uplift Latin work/voices/art: 
Use your voice. Use your platform to share stories, art, or experiences. Try to focus on sharing useful information. Where can we donate? Who can we help today? Which fund are we supporting today? Share, like, post, tag, donate, volunteer, participate. Buy the things we make; our music, art, films, clothes, and so on. Support us!

August 3, 2021

Comunidad Guest DJ: Karma Leigh

Karma Leigh
Photo Credit: Mooxie Soul Photography

You'll likely see Karma Leigh in several different parts of the city - doing multiple things. I know her as a painter and a muralist - and she's got a new mural unveiling this Friday at Museo de las Americas, featuring some other truly amazing mujeres in our city (so...see you out there at 7?). Karma also has her hands in several other community organizations an projects - and I'll let her tell you all about them. Get to know Karma, and peep her super mezcla playlist below!

What do you do in the Denver community: 
I am a painter and creator, uplifter, and supporter of good people and things! I am also an educator with Museo de las Americas of eight years and an art teacher with Voz y Corazon for six years. Additionally,  I am currently on the board of Birdseed Collective as well as an advisory board member for In Lak'ech Arts. I like being busy but I really enjoy it when I get to be home with my family.  

Tell me more about your background:
I was born in Denver and raised from a trailer park in Aurora to the mountains south of Evergreen. I spent most of the last twenty years living and working in Denver proper.  I was big into hip hop and skateboarding when I was in high school and this lead me to find "The Spot" on 21st and Stout. I met a bunch of really dope hip-hop heads, writers and so many other folks, (some who are killing it now, here in Denver!). This really is where a lot of connections and friendships came from that guided me to where I am now. I have hella diverse tastes in things and music, so I have been around the city for years, vending, creating art, curating art shows, painting at live events, and connecting with a bunch of different folks. Things have kept building from there. 

Tell me more about your Latinidad:
Yo soy Chicana. I am proud of my mixed cultures and it took a lot of years, healing, and growing to say that. I always felt ashamed I didn't speak Spanish fluently and that I wasn't as dark as my friends. After I began the deep work of healing myself and family trauma, I began to fully embrace my mixedness. It has been a tough and joyful journey and I am grateful to be in the heart space I am now with my identity. 
Why does representation matter in your community work:
As an artist, I can literally paint an actual, physical reminder and affirmation, yes, you are valuable. We exist. I exist.  There is space for genuine connection, reflection and pride to be felt in the viewer. Recently painting a mural with three strong, community leaders as the focal point, all mujeres... I heard from numerous little girls who were attending summer camp where I was painting say how much they loved seeing the women on the wall. They liked the colors, but it was the joy in their eyes when they told me the women were their favorite part. It was such a sweet reminder of why what I do and how I represent the community is so important.  As an educator, there are a million reasons why representation matters. I could write forever on the topic but in short, the genuine connection and lessons students receive when they learn from people in their own communities, who look like them and talk like them, makes a huge impact on their confidence. 

What is one way the community can uplift Latin work/voices/art:
Connect with each other from a genuine heart space and not a place of ego and opportunity. 

Follow Karma on Instagram here.