In this article first published in our Winter Nick Mag, Indie Grits Co-Curator Amada Torruella discusses the inspiration behind the Visiones theme and her own experiences as a Salvadoran in Columbia. Her words stress the importance of collaboration to one’s personal development, the Latinx artistic community, and the Visiones theme as a whole, and explain the core ideals behind this year’s theme.
Festival Co-Curator Amada Torruella talks about inspiration for the 2017 theme, Visiones, and what’s in store for this year’s festival.
I have been an immigrant since the moment my family fled El Salvador’s civil war in the late 1980’s. Migration has always been a huge part of who I am and has deeply affected the way I see the world. In 2014 my husband was accepted into the University of South Carolina’s biochemistry program and we moved to Columbia, where he became the only Latino PhD candidate in the department. We moved far away from our friends and family to start over again, to adapt and to make sense of a new life. During my first few months in Columbia I struggled to find my place in the community and writing was key in helping me make sense of things. It was during this time that the Visiones theme began to grow from my observations, personal pieces and poems that explored cultural dissonance, identity and relationships with otherness.
I was lucky to find stable ground at the Nick where I started as a volunteer at the 2014 Indie Grits. The Nickelodeon has provided me with numerous experiences and opportunities. Above all the organization has introduced me to community leaders, colleagues, artists, Nick members, and volunteers, who have taught me the tremendous role art plays in a community. The Visiones theme continued to evolve when I began collaborating with Pedro Lopez De Victoria a Puerto Rican musician, co-worker and creative partner at the Nickelodeon.
As a Salvadoran working for an organization that seeks to make its environment thrive culturally and artistically, I’ve spent much of my time connecting with other Latinxs in Columbia. I’ve been inspired by many organizations along the way such as Palmetto Luna Arts, whose work in the community is invaluable. I realized early on that Palmetto Luna could play a critical role in our next Indie Grits venture.
Palmetto Luna’s mission is to foster an understanding of Hispanic/Latino culture by promoting artistic creation and generating spaces of cultural expression for the community in the state. As their Executive Director Ivan Segura explains, “The Latino community in South Carolina has long been an underserved community. Latinos experience several barriers to access educational, social and health care services. The opportunities to participate in artistic endeavors are even more limited. During the last 10 years, our organization has been developing artistic programming to build a bridge between Latino artistry and American culture.” The more I work with Ivan and the Palmetto Luna board, the more I’ve come to realize how far our partnership could take our community. Together we will strengthen the creative platform for Latinxs across South Carolina.
“Visiones is about delving into the dream world of the Latinx community. It’s about weaving together aspirations and stories interconnecting Latinx minds. It’s about magnifying Latinx experiences. It’s also about showcasing new works of art that defy stereotypes and celebrate Latin American culture.”
For the Visiones project, Indie Grits has also joined forces with other local organizations such as PASOS, Viva Columbia and Appleseed Legal Justice Center. Visiones is also about pushing the city of Columbia to deepen its cultural exchange with Latin America. Over the past few months, the Nick has built international relationships with the Consulate of Mexico in Raleigh and the Oaxaca Film Festival in Mexico that will help shape the 2017 festival. Through this journey, Indie Grits has also created alliances with leaders in the Southeastern filmmaking community such as O Cinema Miami and Austin Film Society, allowing for us to expand our filmmaking network.
Visiones is about delving into the dream world of the Latinx community. It’s about weaving together aspirations and stories interconnecting Latinx minds. It’s about magnifying Latinx experiences. It’s also about showcasing new works of art that defy stereotypes and celebrate Latin American culture. Community has the power to generate positive shifts in today’s narratives and in April 2017 we will come together to transform those narratives. Honoring Latinx heritage is important, making our stories and dreams visible is a must.
– Amada Torruella,
Article was originally published in the Winter ’17 issue of the Nick Mag.