The “4th Annual Latino Life,” a photography show in San Francisco’s Mission, captures experiences of a group that is becoming the majority in California, yet remains marginalized in mainstream society.
Organizers at Acción Latina, a Mission-based nonprofit promoting Latino arts, culture and community, and its newspaper El Tecolote, say the 2017 installment of the show, on view at Juan R. Fuentes Gallery through Feb. 24, is more important than ever.
Calling the exhibition the only ongoing Bay Area photo event dedicated to portraying the Latino experience, curator Mabel Jiménez, El Tecolote’s photography editor, said, “The fact that our country has elected a president who kicked off his campaign by disparaging and degrading Latinos has created a climate where racist individuals and organizations now feel legitimized and emboldened to spread a hateful message. Telling our stories cements our existence and importance in this society, and it gives us strength in the current climate.”
Images by 20 volunteer photojournalists who contributed to El Tecolote make up “Latino Life,” which is designed to showcase the work as fine art.
Jiménez says, “I wanted it to be appreciated for the fine art that it is, by taking it out of the page and onto large color prints, [to be] framed and displayed to be enjoyed outside of the journalistic function, and to be seen more as a thing of beauty.”
Colorful photos reveal Latinos’ diversity: in families or couples, as spiritual people, as activists and artists.
At the opening reception on Jan. 14, music by Banda sin Nombre and La Gente SF provided a soundtrack to these Latinos’ stories.
One powerful photo by Ekevara Kitpowsong, titled “My people: Love is stronger than hate,” depicts a small Latino child holding up a sign that reads “We are all immigrants” at an anti-Trump rally at City Hall.
Kitpowsong, who has three photos in the exhibit, says her pictures tell stories of different generations and people of various occupations fighting for their dreams by working hard to pursue them. She says, “I have learned that the Latino community is a very supportive one. They have a great, positive and strong cultural expression and identity.”
Noting that many of the photos illustrate struggle, Jiménez says the word has varied connotations. It can mean challenges and difficulties — “the things thrown at us,” she says. But, she adds, it “also means to battle against these challenges whether by being engaged politically, or simply by continuing to live our lives with dignity, challenging those who wish to make us feel unwelcome.”
Jimenéz, who created the show not knowing how popular it would become, says, “It’s only something I’ve realized as we’ve continued to hold this event; seeing the room fill up every year tells me the public is hungry for more representations like this.”
IF YOU GO
4th Annual Latino Life
Where: Juan R. Fuentes Gallery, 2958 24th St., S.F.
When: 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., Tuesdays-Saturdays; closes Feb. 24