Latino Alliance showcase celebrates inclusivity

By Marisa Sobotka, Campus Reporter

Kevin Tiongson
The Latino Alliance, led by group president and junior business and entrepreneurship major Gabriela Rodriguez, will host an inaugural end of the year showcase.

For the first time, Columbia’s Latino Alliance student organization will be hosting an end-of-the-year celebration to showcase student work and encourage networking with other members of the Latino community of Chicago.

The event, “Somos Latinx,” will be held April 6 at HAUS and the Hokin Gallery, 623 S. Wabash Ave. Coordinator of Latino Affairs and Latino Alliance adviser Rogelio Becerra, who began as a staff member and adviser this academic year, said up to 40 students will showcase their work throughout the night.

Somos Latinx will feature art and culture, merging the two to create a festival-like event, said Latino Alliance president and junior business and entrepreneurship major Gabriela Rodriguez. The theme for the event is reflected in the title, which translates to “We are Latinx,” a gender-neutral term for Latino.

“We chose the name because it expresses our identity and how we explore it,” Rodriguez said. “It is about inclusivity, community, identity, pride and how to express it artistically.”

According to Becerra, the event will include film screenings, visual art, a networking session, live artists painting murals and caricatures, and musical performances. 

The Laugh Factory’s Abi Sanchez and Columbia dance groups will also perform. Community organizations,   will be in attendance including employees from the National Museum of Mexican Art, to network with students, he said. 

“[We have] different artists working in the professional world that want to come and talk to our up-and-coming artists about what is really out there,” Becerra said. “We don’t want it to seem like a professional networking session; it really will be a celebration.”

In previous years, the group has hosted an end-of-the-year food and culture celebration. This year, according to Rodriguez, they wanted to change that concept to showcase student art.

Becerra said the idea for the showcase came from the Black Student Union’s previous “Paint it Black” event, which celebrated artists in more of a “show” type of setting.

Rodriguez said the group has focused on tying inclusivity into the event by accepting any and all student submissions.

“I am Puerto Rican, and in my house, I was taught to help others and to be a stepping  stone in their path,” Rodriguez said. “So Latino Alliance being able to put together an event like this is important because that is what our culture is all about.”

Latino Alliance’s event coordinator as well as sophomore interdisciplinary arts major Adriana Baca said this inclusivity offers the chance for Latino students to showcase their art as well as network with other Latino artists within the Chicago community.

“They are an underrepresented group within Columbia and the U.S.,” Baca said. “It is important to be able to celebrate identity while still being inclusive to everyone else.”

Although Rodriguez said the group is testing the event this year, the group hopes to continue it annually.

“At the end of the day, this is something that grew organically from our own minds,” Becerra said. “We really hope to make   this a community event as much as possible.”