A new Fort Worth art show aims to amplify the works of LGBTQ and BIPOC (Black, indigenous, people of color) artists. This Saturday, May 21, an exhibition called Cochoneria will make its debut at MPACT in Fort Worth.
Created and spearheaded by Alvaro Arroliga, Cochoneria takes its name from the Nicaraguan slang term “Cochon,” a pejorative used to demean LGBTQ people.
“Nowadays, the term is undergoing a transformation in the current LGBTQIA+ community,” Arroliga says, “taking back the term and using it as an empowerment statement for the presence of queer people.”
Arroliga landed the opportunity to curate Cochoneria after submitting a proposal to MPACT, a sexual health and wellness resource center in Fort Worth. In addition to curating the exhibition, Arroliga will also present some of his photography. He describes his work as images that “separate fashion from wealth.”
“I wanted to focus on stylized portrait photography of queer POC people,” Arroliga says. “My intention was creating a platform for LGBTQIA+ emerging photographers who depict subjects and explore with an intimate lens within our current community.”
Among the other artists showcasing their work at Cochoneria are Norma Villatoro, a Salvadorian photographer whose images portray Gen Z in Y2K-inspired queer scenery; Miguel Angel Salgado, a Mexican-American photographer whose work consists of “queer imagery with some commercial flair; Ricardo Rosales, a first-generation Mexican immigrant and a graphic designer and photographer who creates collages of intimate encounters and presents them in an abstract way; and Darren Dobson, a Black photographer and mixed media artist who focuses on digital art and animation presenting dreamy surrealistic imagery.
Several LGBTQ-and-BIPOC-owned businesses will also be showcasing their products. Among the vendors are Mayra of Everything Living, who will sell handmade jewelry incorporating plants; Steph Eats DFW, who will sell tostadas with tinga and ceviche; and Natalia Padilla, a graphic designer who will release a collection of hand-painted notebooks, which she calls “ritual objects.”
“This is the first time I’m going to share them with the public,” Padilla says. “The idea is for you to use them however you want because they’re blank inside. The notebook is to support the user to be intentional about what they want to accomplish, release by writing on it, or sketching.”
Cochoneria is one among several Hispanic art showcases arriving in Dallas-Fort Worth this summer, along with the Yanga showcase at Fair Park, the Carne Asada festival at South Side Ballroom and Centro Popular at Wild Acre Live. With Cochoneria, Arroliga wants to highlight intersectional elements within communities of color.
While representation for queer and BIPOC artists and creators is continuing to grow within Dallas-Fort Worth, some local artists feel that this representation isn’t always intersectional. While some platforms offer representation for queer people, many of them tend to be focused on white cis men; and while some platforms offer representation for Hispanic people and other people of color, queer and trans people often go overlooked.
“I believe there are still few representations of POC and queer people in the art scene of Dallas-Fort-Worth,” Arroligo says. “It feels like our work isn't considered art for some institutions, also considering that art has historically not been accessible to us as much as it has been to cisgender caucasian people. This was a force to create the show, to create POC and queer spaces within the arts.”
“I believe that in order to have a holistic and honest perspective of creativity, we need to be inclusive,” adds Padilla.
Cochoneria will take place Saturday, May 21 from 3 to 7 p.m. at MPACT, on 514 Pennsylvania Ave. in Fort Worth.