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Latinx Artists Turn Insult Into Art at Latino Cultural Center

Juan Betancourt
Debra Gloria's photos were censored on Facebook.

The Spanish term “maricón,” which translates to "faggot," is in insult to gays in the Latino community. Some Latinx artists have reversed the insult and decided to embrace it through art.

The nonprofit organization Arttitude is showing MaricónX, an exhibition that features eight LGBT and Latinx artists whose work covers issues such as identity, culture, religion, media, politics, social climates and sexual gender identity. It is the first of its kind in Dallas and is on display at the Latino Cultural Center through July 27.

“Part of the reason that right now was significant was the political climate and the cultural climate,” says Alejandro Lex Treviño, Arttitude board member and program director of MaricónX. “With people becoming so racist and having different views, we wanted to kind of expose ourselves and put ourselves out there and show some diversity.”

Treviño says that the selection process was difficult, but the group decided on pieces that told a story.

“We looked for pieces that were a little bit more open,” Treviño says, “a little bit more identifying of who we are. We looked for pieces that had more stories.”

Debra Gloria displayed her "Sensualidad" photo series. The series, which is about empowering women’s love and embracing their bodies, was censored on Facebook because it exposed a women’s nipple. Treviño also posted the photos and was censored as well.

“It’s not even obvious,” Treviño says. “But she said that women’s bodies are so censored that we can’t put this kind of stuff out there. But there’s no censorship on men.”

Marco Saucedo shares his childhood experiences of being an immigrant and homosexual through a series of paintings.

“When he brought them, in I almost started crying,” Treviño says.

The painting "No eres de aqui" represents Saucedo's arrival in the U.S. and being an outcast for not speaking English. Two of his paintings show him holding his mother’s arms as he found out his dad, who got deported, died trying to return to the U.S.

The "Daily Struggle" painting by Jayla Wilkerson shows the struggle of a transgender woman preparing for a day. Wilkerson, who is transgender, shows the process of shaving, putting on a wig and applying makeup.

Armando Sebastian is inspired by Frida Kahlo, Mexican folk art and Japanese manga art. One of his series shows the same person and causes the viewer to wonder whether the person is male or female.

“He does it as a vision of himself,” Treviño says. “He says we're all humans, to look past gender and identity to get to the humanist of everybody.”

"Familia Lesbiana," a seven-piece photo series by Olivia Peregrino, shows lesbian couples living in Mexico.

“It’s a about removing stigma from gay families,” Treviño says. “These are all lesbian couples with their kids of different ages.”

click to enlarge Enrique de Altamirano began making dresses as a young boy. - JUAN BETANCOURT
Enrique de Altamirano began making dresses as a young boy.
Juan Betancourt
In the middle of the exhibition are four dresses by fashion designer Enrique de Altamirano. His dresses are designed to represent cultural significance. Treviño says Altamirano started making dresses as a young boy and was lucky that his family supported him.

Herman Cardona has a series of instant film photos of drag queens in Dallas, and Raquel Hynson's pieces were inspired by a breakup and losing a family member.

The exhibition was first displayed at the Oak Cliff Cultural Center on May 4. Treviño expected to have around 75 people show up to its opening reception, but he was amazed that more than 200 people attended.

“From the first night, the only thing that I heard was, 'Please don’t stop,'” Treviño says. “'Continue doing this. Keep making this. Keep giving these people opportunity. And make the show bigger and bigger.'”

Since then, the exhibition has had pop-up shows in Austin and McAllen and will have one in San Antonio. Treviño says that during the McAllen Pride in the Park event, he saw thousands of guests go to the exhibition.

“Next year, we're starting to get ready to go national,” Treviño says. “We're in talks with a gallery in New York. There’s a possibility of doing an exhibit at a pride center in Miami. We’re hoping ... we get to New York, Miami, D.C. and L.A.”

Treviño wants to take the show further by going international to Canada and Mexico.

“I’ll be happy to take the show worldwide and show off everything,” Treviño says. “My ultimate goal personally is to create a community of artists.”