Saturday, September 28, 2013

Aqui Estamos

September 28th. 6 - 8 PM

An exhibition of 10 photographs documenting the lives Mexican immigrants in South Philadelphia.  The work is part of her oral history project documenting the arrival and integration of Mexicans into Philadelphia society and culture.

"Carnival of Puebla at Penn’s Landing”

Leticia Roa Nixon (Ahdanah) was born in Mexico City and has lived in Philadelphia since 1985. She has a B.S. in Communications from Universidad Iberoamericana. Since 1992, as a photo journalist for Hispanic newspapers she has been documenting the diversity of Latino immigrants in this city. 
With Laura Deutch and Carlos Pascual Sánchez she produced the video documentary El Sol Sale Para Todos (The Sun Shines for All) partnering with JUNTOS, thanks to a Leeway Foundation Art and Change Grant (April 2009). She published Aquí Estamos/Here We Are, a bilingual book of South Philadelphia Mexican immigrants oral stories.

Leticia was co-editor of Mirrors and Windows/Espejos y Ventanas, Oral Stories of Mexicans of Kennett Square.  She is finishing her book Arándanos, Oral Stories of Philadelphia Puerto Rican Blueberry Pickers to be self-published in 2012. And has published two biographical books for children, “Blueberry Lady” and “The Mexican Lindbergh”.

In 2009, with Dalia O’Gorman, she co-founded of Casa Monarca, a non-profit organization dedicated to preserve and promote Mexican art culture and traditions through artistic and educational programs in South Philadelphia. 

Leticia is the publisher of the blog “Las Recientes Noticias”(LRNews). 
Leticia Roa Nixon (Ahdanah)  nació en el Distrito Federal, la capital de México, y ha vivido en Filadelfia desde 1985. Es egresada de la Universidad Iberoamericana en la carrera de Comunicación. Desde 1992, como foto-periodista para periódicos hispanos ha documentado la diversidad de inmigrantes latinos en esta ciudad

Con Laura Deutch y Carlos Pascual Sánchez, produjo el video documental “El Sol Sale Para Todos” en asociación con JUNTOS, gracias a una subvención de Leeway Foundation  (Abril 2009). También publicó este año "Aquí Estamos",un libro de historias orales de mexicanos del Sur de Filadelfia.

Leticia es co-editora de  “Mirrors and Windows/Espejos y Ventanas, Historias Orales de Mexicanos de Kennett Square”. Está terminando su libro “Arándanos, Historias Orales de Pizcadores Puertorriqueños” que auto-publicará en el 2012. Ha publicado dos libros biográficos para niños, “Blueberry Lady” y “The Mexican Lindbergh”.

En 2009, junto con Dalia O’Gorman, co-fundó Casa Monarca, una organización no lucrativa dedicada a preservar y promover el arte, la cultura y tradiciones mexicanas a través de programas artísticos y educativos en el Sur de Filadelfia. 

Leticia tiene su propio blog sobre temas de inmigración titulado “Las Recientes Noticias”.(LRNews). 

Friday, July 5, 2013

Lost Lots First Report Draft

“To explore how physical space is necessary to allow for political struggle and without it is no place for struggle. Public space is not only as Lefebvre, would have it, a representation of space - space designed by planners and engineers, and ordered for consumption. Nor is it merely a representational of space - space of every life, save, made and remade through ordinary, often mundane spatial practice.”
Don Mitchell “The Right to the City” 

Area of Investigation
“Be sure to settle the figure of the town so as the streets hereafter may be uniform down to the water from the country bounds... This may be ordered when I come, only let the house built be in a line, or upon a line, as much as may be...”
William Penn circa 1682 [in his use of the grid as the typical organization for Philadelphia parcels] 

Area of Encasement

Ariel and Street View
Different boundaries have been defined by several agencies and many residents would not necessarily place themselves in Fairhill, other names include Hartshranft, West Fairhill, and simply North Philly.

“Is there some spatial structure or set of structures which will maximize equity and efficiency in the urban system or, at least, maximize our ability to control the powerful hidden mecha- nisms which bring about redistribution? This is both a norma- tive and a positive question for it suggests that we can explain current distributional effects by looking at existing spatial structures and also devise spatial structures to achieve a given distributional goal.”
David Harvey , 1973, Social Injustice and the City 

Lost Lots
Lost Lots is based in premise that the physical space of the city, its organization and quality, can be a mechanism of integration--claiming places. The open, public spaces of the city both reinforce and promote existing and new social agreements: where meetings between different people take place, where identities emerge, where a sense of belonging is fostered. But how are these spaces defined? 

Proposed Parcels

American Street [Between York & Dauphin]

- By Ariel Vázquez
Contact him at

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Journey to Refuge First Draft of Report One is Posted

The weight

Keeping a journal written in performative writing, and archiving is the Counter Narrative Society’s (CNS) methodology for examining the effects of what they call the "invisible punishing machine." Their term for what they describe as the subtle, but harmful procession of mass incarceration and the prison industrial complex that they see gripping society today; they qualify this as being "science fictional," implying a sense improbability in the face of a certain reality.

CNS is an artistic-research-activist unit that has traveled from San Francisco, CA, to Boston, MA, and finally to Philadelphia, PA. In this project they are focusing in North Philadelphia's Latino community.

Mass incarceration refers to the high rate of imprisonment that is primarily affecting young people in society, especially poor blacks and Latinos living in marginalized communities. The rate of incarceration it is found as being so high that it is not only affecting the individuals but entire segments of society. And the prison industrial complex is the private businesses that have been built to meet these demands. Their motivation, since it is purely a commercial interest, is perceived as coming at the expense of the inmates in their care, and their needs to satisfy their shareholders interests. CNS, in their whimsical way, collects data to measure the impact of the affected communities of these two forces in North Philadelphia. They have mapped areas, and connected with individuals through social media and activist organizations such as the Human Right Coalition, Decarcerate PA, Historic Fairhill Burial Grounds and Taller Puertorriqueño, (in the entrance of Taller they have set up a desk where they work from on occasion and map out their progress on the wall in chalk). The collection is a difficult task but one that is personal. In the bright orange bundle that they use to carry their research in, made from a California inmate's uniform, it is the metaphysical “weight.”   

People are encouraged to contact them through email at They are even asked to follow them on Facebook or by signing up to their newsletter. On Facebook, they keep an informal journal. As they see it, we are all affected by a system that in its efforts to punish only achieves to dehumanize and further marginalize large swaths of society. Affected by this, they are trying to come to terms with it, and make a change as they journey to find a home. It is one step they say, in a two state process of becoming.

CNS's first draft report for the first part with their video presentation is here.

The Fights

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Photography Without Borders

June 14 - July 20, 2013
*Opening Reception: Friday June 14, 5:30 - 8PM
Closing Reception: Saturday, July 20, 2-5PM

Taller Puertorriqueño is pleased to present photographer/educator Tony Rocco and his students from North Philadelphia, PA, and La Florida, Colombia, to conclude their three-year-long cultural exchange program in photography, education, and youth leadership in a multimedia exhibition in the Lorenzo Homar Gallery. 

This unique exhibition publicly acknowledges the powerful perspective of youths from inner-city America and rural Colombia who face the daily challenges of living in marginalized communities.  Rocco’s photographs bridge these two communities and respond in tandem with the students' work as they utilize photography as a medium to explore and compare their worlds.

*A group of students and chaperones from La Florida, Colombia will attend the opening reception on June 14th. The cross-cultural exhibition then travels to Colombia as the Philadelphia delegation embarks on a 10-day tour this summer of Medellín, Cali, and Bogotá, sponsored by the US Embassy and concludes with another group exhibition in Bogota in August, 2013.

Photography Without Borders is a photography outreach program that builds bridges between youth in marginalized communities around the world. For more info. please go to

Friday, May 10, 2013

The Artist in the cycle of Claiming Places

In the book Diálogos, Placemaking in Latino Communities, the writers discuss one definition of place as referring to “territorialized local communities, collective memories associated with territory, claims of authenticity by local actors, phenomenological associations with locales, and social relationships among people in territorial communities.” In other words, place connotes a community’s shared history and experience 

Taller Puertorriqueño’s (Taller’s) proposed move into new facilities, expanding its services to further its mission as an institution that promotes the understanding of Puerto Rican and Latino cultures, was the genesis for its 2012 - 13 exhibition cycle, Claiming Places: Unity, Ownership, and “Hogar” (Home). In the Puerto Rican barrios around Taller, the availability of affordable housing and workspaces is luring in artists, young professionals, and first-time homebuyers who are not Latino. Also entering the mix are Latinos who are not Puerto Rican. This increase in demand and diversity in the area (while not alleviating the needs of the Puerto Rican community living here) has set the stage for a full investigation of what it means for Puerto Ricans and the Latino community in general to claim a place as their own. This concern falls within the context of the Puerto Rican neighborhoods of North Philadelphia, Mexican immigration, changing attitudes of the local youth, and acknowledgment of varying aspirations and viewpoints within the Latino community. This conglomeration, paired with the need and demand for better public services, employment opportunities and understanding, set this cycle in motion.

In constructing this cycle, we started with the premise that the affirmation of one’s Latino ethnic heritage is a political statement and a form of placemaking. Consider for a moment the controversy surrounding Latino studies programs[1] in some quarters of the country, the underfunding of bilingual education[2], and the inability of politicians to find common ground on immigration reform (despite a growing national consensus that this must be addressed[3]), and you may begin to understand that Latinos who may not be political may, nonetheless, feel politicized by their very presence or absence. In this light, any action taken by Latinos in America to assert themselves and their heritage can be construed as placemaking, and artists, whose work may seem far removed from these discussions, are nevertheless drawn in.

Pressures on the Latino community are also displayed as public funding for social services for the neediest is being cut and replaced by neo-liberal models that call for privatization and the marketing of culture[4]. This act of essentially selling cultural experiences whitewashes any cultural distinctions by applying Universalist calls for Latindad without acknowledging national distinctions.[5] To respond to these current issues, we felt it necessary to cast a wide net for this cycle to show the Latino community’s different viewpoints, reflecting that which we have now: the immigrant, the contemporary, the next generation, and the transnational. This produced an unconventional exhibition cycle that was challenging to some artists who were asked to move away from their comfort zones and consider what they feel is their community and how they fit in spatially and socially.

The eight selected exhibitions for Claiming Places: Unity, Ownership, and “Hogar” (Home) come from a variety of communities and disciplines. These exhibitions highlight the distinct ways Latino artists are seeing their worlds and claiming places within their communities. Within this cycle, we exhibit works from artists and groups who were invited to reflect on the concept of claiming places. The exhibitions include:

• César Viveros Herrera, No Me Conformo [I don’t Conform nor Accept], 9/28 - 11/10/2012, born in Mexico, muralist and traditional Aztec and Mayan Performer; (Lorenzo Homar Gallery)

• Ahdanah (Leticia Roa Nixon), Ahdanah (Leticia Roa Nixon), 9/28 - 12/1/2012,, born in Mexico, photo journalist and author; (El Vestíbulo Exhibition Space)

• Merián Soto, Triangulations: Revisiting OYWPP, 12/7 - 1/19/2013,, from Puerto Rico, a choreographer and dancer; (Lorenzo Homar Gallery)

• Youth Artist Program (YAP), Dreams & Realities, 1/25 - 3/23/2013, Philadelphia student artists from Taller’s ; (El Vestíbulo Exhibition Space)

• Esperanza Cortés, Entre Sombras - Sites of Memory, 2/8 - 3/30/2013,, born in Colombia, installation artist and painter; (Lorenzo Homar Gallery)

• Ariel Vazquez, born in Dominican Republic, an urban planner, and the Counter Narrative Society’s (CNS), from Chile and San Francisco, CP LAB, 3/30 - 7/19/2013, an artistic-research-activist unit; (El Vestíbulo Exhibition Space)

• Dino Vazquez, Futuro Metálico, 4/19 - 5/25/2013, born in Puerto Rico, artist and vernacular architect; (Lorenzo Homar Gallery)

• Tony Rocco and the children from North Philadelphia and La Florida, Colombia, Photography Without Borders, 6/14 - 7/20/2013, photography exhibition. (Lorenzo Homar Gallery)

In the next few weeks in four parts we will be reviewing the exhibitions so far while putting the cycle into context. Please join us in this conversation of claiming places and understanding unity, ownership and hogar.

[1] “Rift in Arizona as Latino Class Is Found Illegal” - NYT 1/7/2011

[2] “Suburban Chicago Schools Lag as Bilingual Needs Grow” - NYT 2/9/2012

[3] “POLL AFTER POLL: AMERICAN PUBLIC WANTS IMMIGRATION REFORM WITH CITIZENSHIP,” Americas Voice Online, 1/23/13, An aggregate of polling data :

[4] Arlene Davila, Barrio Dreams, 2004
[5] Arlene Davila, Barrio Dreams, 2004 & Balch Institute for Ethnic Studies of the Historical Society of Philadelphia, Latino Philadelphia:Our Journeys, Our Communities, 2004

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Place & Hogar: Ramifications in the Face of Demographic Flux The second and final panel discussion

Place & Hogar: Ramifications in the Face of Demographic Flux
The second and final panel discussion
3 PM, Saturday, May 4, 2013 at Taller Puertorriqueño

Place and Hogar: Ramifications in the Face of Demographic Flux is the second of two panel discussions organized as part of Taller Puertorriqueño's Claiming Places: Unity, Ownership, and “Hogar” (Home) exhibition cycle. Through art, dance, and architecture and staged in a variety of Taller’s spaces (its gallery walls and a neighborhood parking lot - the physical site of Taller’s new facility), this year’s theme seeks to engage the community in a dialogue which explores, reveals and questions “ownership” and the consequences of making a space your own.

The discussion will center on the changing landscape of North Philadelphia, both demographically and architecturally, and how the local Latino community can adapt.

Join panelist: Professor Lorrin Thomas, author of "Puerto Rican Citizen;" Antonio Fiol Silva, the principal architect for Taller's new building; artists Esperanza Cortés, Dino Vazquez; and Taller ‘s Visual Arts Program Manager, Rafael Damast. Moderator for the discussion is Johnny Irizarry, Director of La Casa Latina at the University of Pennsylvania.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Photos from the Jan 26 Panel Discussion: What Unites and Defines a Community on Jan 26

What Unites and Defines a Community Discussion

What Unites and Defines a Community Discussion
What Unites and Defines a Community Discussion

What Unites and Defines a Community Discussion

More photos here

Photos of the panel discussion on Jan 26, with the artists César Viveros Herrera and Esperanza Cortés, Caitlin Peck (teacher and artist) and Carmen Febo San Miguel, the director of Taller Puertorriqueño.   The panel's moderator was J.C. Calderon.

The discussion focussed on the definitions of community and the forces that unite them.  Viveros gave an over view of his murals and his immigration experiences.  Peck discussed her work and her YAP students exhibition, Dreams & Realities, which spoke of their personal history, aspirations and outlooks of their community.  San Miguel discussed, briefly, the history and mission of Taller Puertorriqueño.  And finally, Cortés gave a presentation of her work and her connection to Latino community.  The public actively engaged in the discussion.   The panel discussion was held at the Lorenzo Homar Gallery.