City College and the Cultural Awareness Center coordinated events honoring, celebrating and showcasing Chicano and Latino heritage Sept. 13 and Sept. 15 on campus.
The Cultural Awareness Center presented “HERstories: A Visual Art Journey,” Sept. 13, featuring artists and presenters Ruby Chacon and Veronica Perez from Salt Lake City, Utah. More than 40 people listened to the two Chicana artists, who presented a slideshow of their paintings and murals, combined with monologues explaining what it was like to grow up in North America as a Chicana.
“ ‘Go back to where you come from,’ ” Chacon said. “That’s what we heard as we moved through the streets, through the schools and the hospitals.”
According to Chacon, her family lived in Utah for more than 400 years and it wasn’t until she turned 27 that she began to learn her own heritage and cultural identity. She felt her own heritage had been purposefully misrepresented in public education and most often omitted from the history curriculum in Utah in order to suppress her cultural identity.
Chacon said, “I spent my whole life with an identity that wasn’t real.”
According to Perez, while attending public school she found a limited focus on art, and when it was presented, it almost entirely concentrated on European art, leaving out her own heritage. Perez said she found her cultural identity through art as she extensively researched cultural symbols and customs to better understand and represent her heritage. It can be plainly seen in her own art through a combination of Mayan and Catholic images.
“Art is a median to express our [Chicano] culture,” Perez said. “Sitting well with who you are starts with knowing who you are.”
Lastly, the performance of Mariachi Los Gallos Sept. 15 in the Quad at noon to commemorate Mexico and Central America’s independence, with crowd estimates hovering around 400 people and authentic Mexican cuisine offered for a nominal price per plate.
Los Gallos enthusiastically danced and played mariachi music on stage. City College clubs offered catering: Brown Issues Club, Puente Club, Dream Caucus and Japanese Culture Club.
“We are all brown, we all have issues,” said Michael A. Ramirez, president of the Indigenous People’s club, “so we need to support each other.”