Sylvia Orozco: The Mind Behind Mexic-Arte

mam-logoIf you’ve ever been to Austin, Texas, you have probably seen the museum Mexic-Arte that is located in downtown Austin. The museum, which was founded in 1984, started out as a small gallery in a 300 square foot warehouse. The mission for this museum has always remained the same: to teach the people of Austin about Mexican-influenced art.

LATINITAS: When did you realize you were interested in art?
SYLVIA: My father was a boot maker from Guadalajara. He worked in a boot shop in Cuero, Texas and I would go with him on Saturdays and watch him make boots. I liked watching him create something. I always liked drawing. I won a contest for best drawing in 2nd grade of a little dog that I drew (laughs). I guess I was always comfortable drawing and was told I was good at it.

LATINITAS: How did you end up in Austin?
SYLVIA: I transferred to UT and studied Studio Art and Painting from 1975 to 1978.

LATINITAS: What made you decide to stay in Austin?
SYLVIA: I didn’t. I went to Mexico City and got my master’s at the Autonomous University of Mexico. It was there where I learned a lot more about museums and galleries.

LATINITAS: I see, so how did that partake into the formation of Mexic-Arte?
SYLVIA: Well, while I was in Mexico City I kept in touch with organizations that I worked with while I was studying at UT, like Mujeres Artistas Del Suroeste and LUChA, the League of United Chicano Artists. I wanted to bring what I saw in Mexico City to Austin.

LATINITAS: Racism is still alive and apparent, have you come across this issue in your career?
SYLVIA: We’re located downtown and we’ve been told before that we should be in east Austin (a high percentage of Latinos reside in east Austin). What most people don’t know is that Republic Square (located in downtown Austin) was a Mexican neighborhood. I believe there is an $8 million budget for art and Latinos need to get an appropriate share. In the 90’s, 17% to 19-% went to Latinos, now it’s only 12%.

LATINITAS: What do you feel art is so important?
SYLVIA: There’s a lot of negative things out there about Latinos, we have a lot of positive things and art helps bring that forward. Art connects us to our history. If people feel connected to something positive they feel stronger. Art contributes to the quality of life, it stimulates your brain and helps you develop creativity.

LATINITAS:What is your advice for future Latinas and career women?
SYLVIA: Those are difficult years. I would say to be aware of how hard it is and how those times can make a huge difference in the future. Be careful and make wise choices so you can have a better future for yourself.

LATINITAS:What do you aspire to see Latinas accomplish in the future?
SYLVIA: I hope that Latinas get more involved in art, even in politics. They shouldn’t be intimidated. I would want to see them embrace the arts, whether an artist themselves or a supporter but to at least become involved. [Art] enriches your life. Latinas are encouraged to do other things, but there isn’t enough encouragement to become involved in the arts.

Fashion Designer: Carolina Herrera

Don’t you ever wish that you could have the power to draw an outfit and make it come to life? Especially when it comes to designing beautiful dresses that will be worn at the grammy’s by a celebrity? Carolina Herrera, a fashion icon, is a true example of a hard working Latina and fashionista.


Personal Life

Carolina Herrera was born on January 8, 1939 in Caracas, Venezuela. She was introduced into the fashion world at a young age by her grandmother, taking her to local shows. Her grandmother also taught young Carolina that dressing up mattered by buying her outfits from Lanvin and Dior. During her career, Carolina Herrera has given birth to four children and has been married twice.

Career Launch

Once Herrera grew older, she was known for having an elegant fashion style. She was convinced by one of her friends in New York who worked for Vogue to create a few items and send them to her. Still in Caracas, Carolina took up her offer and created a few fashion items and brought them to New York. A fashion boutique in New York offered to showcase her items and it became a success. She was able to raise enough money to fund an official launch and runway show in 1980, and her successful career skyrocketed in New York.

Carolina Herrera’s Line

Carolina Herrera is best known for her evening wear designs. She has won many awards and she has had success with having her fashion be worn by several household names, like Renee Zelweger, Oprah Winfrey and even Michelle Obama. Her line is mainly based in New York, but she has been successfully expanding worldwide. She has opened stores in London, Brazil, Mexico, South Korea and Japan. She currently has 18 stores under her name worldwide! Her clothing line has been positively written about from famous publications, like The New York TimesWomen’s Daily Wear and Tatler. Carolina has also been inducted into the International Best Dressed Hall of Fame. Not only did Carolina try to branch out in the fashion industry, but in the beauty industry as well with the creation of a new perfume.

Awards and Achievement

Throughout her lifetime, Carolina Herrera has been recognized multiple times because of her elegant and beautiful designs. She was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Council of Fashion Designers of America, and has been awarded “Womenswear Designer of the Year.” Herrera is a recipient of The International Center in New York’s Award of Excellence as well as Spain’s Gold Medal for Merit in the Fine Arts, which was presented to her by King Don Juan Carlos I. She received the Fashion Group International Superstar Award, the Style Awards Designer of the Year in 2012 and the “Mercedes-Benz Presents” title for her 2011 collection.

Carolina Herrera is an example of an inspirational and hard-working Latina. She is an icon for many chicas out there who want to succeed in the fashion world. If she can do it, then you fashionistas can as well!

Q&A with Gaby Moreno

Gaby_Moreno_en_Acceso_Total_3_CroppedWritten by Sylvia Butanda and Sara Eunice Martinez

With a soulful sound and incredible vocals, Gaby Moreno has received three Latin Grammy nominations in the Record of the Year, Song of the Year, and Best New Artist categories. In 2013, Gaby nabbed a Latin Grammy for Best New Artist. Latinitas sat down with Gaby Moreno, Guatemala singer-songwriter and guitarist.

Can you recall your most memorable performance?
My most memorable performance would have to be performing in Paris. It was a dream come true. As an artist, your dream is to bring your music to the world. Being able to perform in Paris gave me the opportunity to do that.

Who would you say your biggest musical influences are?
I went to visit New York City for the first time when I was 13 or so, and that’s the first time I heard the blues… My music is influenced by blues singing and also has a lot of Spanish sounds. I get a lot of inspiration from old school blues artists that were popular before the 1960s.

Gaby+Moreno+14th+Annual+Latin+GRAMMY+Awards+QasuOEdm417lWhat made you get into music?
It was actually my mother who had gotten me into it. At the age of five, she thought that I had a good singing voice. I started singing lessons and at age thirteen, my family went on a vacation to New York That was when we passed by a lady in the street singing to Jazz. I thought that it was so different and beautiful. So that was what inspired me to contribute some jazz into my work.

For those Latinitas who want to pursue their dreams, what advice do you have to them when they’re trying to express their identity in what they love to do?
You know, when you’re little, you can only dream of going to these far away places and one day, there you are. Find what makes you happy and stick to it, no matter how cliché it sounds, just do what you love and be proud of who you are and the rest will follow.

Dreams On Pointe

© BE Studio Inc 2013For many girls, attending dance is a great way to have fun or to participate in an exciting form of exercise. For others, it is the passion that pushes them to the edge of exhaustion and then some, in order to be the graceful figure on stage. Becoming a professional dancer is something that has most likely crossed the minds of many young girls, but those who wish to pursue it as a serious career will find that it takes far more than attending the occasional class.

What many dancers do not realize is that reaching the professional level takes more than joining the dance team at school.  It takes sacrifice and a large amount of one’s time and dedication to the dance studio. The life of a dancer who wishes to pursue the role of a professional revolves around being healthy and maintaining stamina- all while pushing yourself to be better and stronger everyday. This pursuit is no different than becoming a professional athlete and requires the same amount of serious dedication.

Making it in this Industry

Careers in dance are not for the faint of heart, nor those who cannot stand a bit of strong-willed perseverance. From the perspective of a dance student who now teaches at the studio she established after working with a pre-professional company, Jessica Zamarripa, a native of Laredo, Texas and founder and creative director of Laredo School of Contemporary Dance says, “I have had a lot of students come and go… [because] dance requires a lot of time. It requires a lot of sacrifice… even now as a dance teacher, I have to sacrifice my personal life. But I have no regrets, it’s all going to be worth it.”  After dancing with pre-professional contemporary dance company Ballet East of Austin, Texas, Zamarripa established Laredo School of Contemporary Dance to fill the need for a pre-professional dance industry in Laredo


On her thoughts about what it takes to make it in the industry: “You need to have the heart to be in this field. It does not matter if you have the natural ability alone, the other part is your willingness to work through the monotony of countless rehearsals and repetitions.”

Careers in dance start and end in youth. The earlier you train, the better the chance of improvement and the more things you retain over time. Once you figure out dance is the career for you, the hours spent at the dance studio become something to look forward to, no matter the price- and this price will be your hard work and dedication. According to Zamarripa, those who seek immediate results “belong in the audience, watching dance.”

Young Female Artists in San Antonio

ArtSuppliesSan Antonio features several young artists, musicians, and poets throughout the city. Meet some of the vibrant artistic women in San Antonio.

Manuela Gonzales

Born in Venezuela, she began to discover her love for drawing at an early age. Now, she attends St. Mary’s University as an Internal Relations student and still regularly draws on the side. Most of her artwork focuses on her own thoughts and desires.

“Everything else in the world is so analytical and art is the one thing that has no rules. Anything you think of can be created into a reality,” said Manuela.  She intends to incorporate art into her future profession as well. Some of her artwork can be viewed at plumeetencre on Tumblr.

Sarah Garcia

Sara Garcia, 19, will be attending the Art Institute of Chicago this fall. As a child, her mom would always make creative projects since she had access to a lot of supplies as a pre-k teacher but her interest in the fine arts really began to peak during high school. A lot of her art focuses on the vast traditions and folklore in her Chicana heritage. Her personal cultural experiences provides a connection between her art and the viewer. Sarah plans on getting her Bachelors of Fine Arts to make a career out of her art. Her artwork can be seen at saritagarciaart on Instagram.

Natalie Dee Sauceda

Natalie Dee Sauceda, 18, also found her passion for art at a young start. She began drawing in kindergarden in order to fully express herself and she hasn’t stopped since then. Natalie believes art is important to her because “it breaks down social barriers and creates a sense of identity for the artist” and she plans to use art in her future profession. Her artwork may not be suitable for younger viewers or those who are easily offended, but you can find her grotesque artwork at gatalajara on Instagram.

If you would like your art featured by Latinitas, e-mail your art work to 

Rocking Out with Latina Musicians

Music2Being Latina is something to be proud of. What better way to express your inner self than through music! Take a look at some albums by Latinas who are not afraid to express their culture and themselves.

Shakira – Shakira

Being a Latina, Shakira is an amazing and inspiring artist to listen to! Her new and tenth album, Shakira, has a variety of rhythms that are sure to satisfy a variety of music tastes. Shakira and multilingual abilities draws a variety of listeners and other feature singers into her new album so check it out for some upbeat tunes!

Christina Aguilera- Lotus 

Although this album was released in November of 2012, the meaning and message behind each song remains the same. The songs reach out to its listeners as empowering songs and they promote an inner strength that Aguilera was feeling at the time she wrote and sang these songs.

Mariah Carey- Me. I Am Mariah 

From the sounds of the singles released from this album so far seem to be confident songs and of being independent. Even from the title of the album, “Me. I Am Mariah”, lets the listener know that her songs as a Latina are going to be ones pertaining to being your own person.

Paulina Rubio- Pau Factor 

Paulina Rubio is an empowering Latina singer that many younger girls look up to. This is because, as can be seen in this album, her songs are upbeat and meaningful. The lyrics can easily fit your mood and and the beat is so catchy and entertaining. It is definitely worth taking some time to listen to her latest album!

Jennifer Lopez- A.K.A. 

JLo’s latest album features collaborations with Iggy Azalea and Sia. Her variety in this album will be sure to reach the music tastes of music lovers everywhere. Her songs are also known for their upbeat tunes which is another reason to anxiously await her new album!

All these great Latina singers should make you want to listen to their albums when you feel like listening to upbeat and enthusiastic music. Get your headphones and speakers ready to rock these great tunes!

Five Latinas Taking Action

The earth’s climate is changing and human activity is to blame. What may seem like a distant problem left for countries across the world to deal with actually affects us at home. Environmental health hazards are especially impacting Latino communities and workplaces nationwide. Recycling and reusing are some ways we can help make a difference in the environment, but there are even bigger issues that we need to solve. Here are five Latinas working hard to make the earth and Latino communities healthier and safer!

Austin, Texas

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East Austin native Susanna Almanza works to bridge the gap between environmental issues and social and economic justice. As director and founding member of Austin’s P.O.D.E.R.(People Organized in Defense of Earth and her Resources), Almanza and the organization seek to increase awareness and active advocacy in communities affected by toxic pollution and unfair economic development. Her impact extends from local and national efforts, such as membership of the City of Austin Environmental Board and service on numerous committees including the EPA’s Title VI Implementation Advisory Committee.

VICTORIA A. ARROYO, Georgetown Law School
Washington, D.C.


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Graduating magna cum laude with her B.S. from Emory and J.D. from Georgtown Law School, and with top honors with her M.P.A. from Harvard, Arroyo’s dynamic career and accomplishments include extensive work in environmental policy, general counsel, carbon emission programs and economics to name a few. Arroyo is the Assistant Dean for Centers and Institutes and director of the Climate Center of Georgetown University Law Center. She oversees projects on climate mitigation and teaches environmental law courses at Georgetown Law School, as well as serves on the editorial boards of the Climate Policy journal and the Georgetown International Environmental Law Review. Arroyo has worked in private firms and served in two offices at U.S. EPA, with responsibilities including the review of development of standards under the Clean Air Act.


Washington D.C.

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Andrea Delgado’s passion for the environment comes from growing up in the Ecuadorian Amazonia. She is part of Earth Justice’s Policy and Legislation team where she develops and implements strategies to protect public health from hazardous waste, chemicals and pesticides in the workplace. She works with Congress and federal agencies to strengthen policy and also serves on the Advisory Board of Voces Verde. In 2008, Delgado became the first Fellow of the National Latino Coalition on Climate Change and in 2011, won the national MillerCoors Líder of the Year Award for her work on labor and environmental issues.



Atlanta, Georgia

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In July 2011, Beatriz Perez became The Coca-Cola Company’s first-ever Chief Sustainability Officer (CSO). For nearly twenty years, Perez has worked with the company’s marketing programs, which range for various media and entertainment, American Idol, entertainment, university marketing, sports properties and more. She is behind Coca-Cola’s efforts to incorporate sustainability into its business practice, which includes changes to its packaging, recycling, delivery and fuel cost alternatives. Perez also works to promote women entrepreneurship and recently helped start a Ghana water center to reduce time locals spent getting drinking water.


San Francisco, California

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Adrianna Quintero is the founder and executive director of Voces Verdes, an independent non-partisan coalition of Latino advocates for sound environmental policy changes and support for clean, renewable energy. Quintero specializes in public health issues revolving around safe drinking water, bottled water, pesticides and toxic air pollution. She is also the senior attorney at NRDC. Quintero has litigated before the Supreme Court, testified before Congressional subcommittees and the United Nations, and appeared on national and international English and Spanish television and radio programs. Her 2004 report, “Hidden Danger: Environmental Health Threats in the Latino Community” marked the beginning of her mission to engage and inform Latinos about environmental health threats.


Latina Spotlight: Leading Latinas

Photo Credit: AAUW

Photo Credit: AAUW

Latinitas celebrated Women’s History Month by hosting a blog-a-thon. Members of the community shared who they admired and why:

I will be honest. I am not a big sports fan. But if there is one revolutionary Latina that just has to be mentioned in sports, that has to be Rebecca Lobo. If you are a basketball fan, you might now that Rebecca was part of the 1996 Olympic women’s “Dream Team,” but let me tell you a little more about her.

Born in Hartford, CT, Rebecca was around basketball at a young age. Her career highlights include awards such as the NCAA Women’s Basketball Player of the Year (1995) and the ESPY Award for Outstanding Female Athlete in 1995. She won these awards and many more at a time where women in sports was something taboo, and extremely unheard of.

While she is currently playing for the Houston Comets, her career as a professional basketball player began after her graduation from the University of Connecticut with a bachelor’s degree in Political Science in 1995.

Rebecca’s star status grew when she started playing college basketball and was one of the women who showed America and the world that WOMEN PLAY SPORTS!” – Ingrid

Selena Quintanilla is my inspiration because she was an amazing Latina singer. She set a good reputation for herself also, she inspired so many young Latina girl.” – Alizae

Today I met Josefina Vazquez Mota, one of Mexico’s first female presidential candidates. She ran for the 2012 presidential elections. I remember I was in Thailand at the time and wasn’t able to vote for her but was hugely concerned over whether she would win. In the end, she wasn’t elected, but was still hugely recognized. Today, in New York City, she presented her book on the success stories of Mexicans in the US, titled “El sueño que unió la frontera.

Josefina is a Latina like you and I. She was born in Mexico but believes in the power of Latinos, not only in the US, but in Latin America as well. Here or there we’re all bound to fight for a cause, she expressed.

 I grew up believing I needed to belong somewhere. One place, only one. I was born in Brownsville, Texas (as I have probably mentioned a million times) and would drive to Mexico every other weekend. With time, I realized that I loved both places, but I also knew they weren’t very similar, and this caused a feeling of contradiction within me” – Giselle


Leading Latina: Christina Garcia

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Photo Credit:

Written by Rebecca Jackson

Immigration reform is a pressing political issue in the United States as people from around the world cross borders to find better opportunities for themselves and their families.  A Latina making an impact to help immigrants is Christina Garica. Christina Garcia is the Program Coordinator for the Battered Immigrant Women department at Las Americas Immigrant Advocacy Center in El Paso, Texas. That’s a long title for a crucial job.

Garcia’s Contribution to Her Community

In her own words, Garcia “takes care of people who are victims of crimes and domestic abuse.” She does this by connecting clients to the visas they need to stay safe.

The first is a Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) Visa which protects women who are married to United States citizens and suffer from domestic violence. The Violence Against Women Act, which was first passed in 1994, created a number of laws that politicians hoped would help prevent violence against women and provide better support for women who had experienced violence. Legislators at the time realized that many non-citizen and undocumented people, mostly women, experiencing domestic violence were not reporting the abuse to the police for fear of losing their immigration status and being deported. The VAWA Visa encourages immigrant women to report domestic abuse by giving them access to legal residence that doesn’t depend on their relationship to an abusive partner.

The second type of visa is a U-Visa. A U-Visa allows undocumented people who are the victims of crimes and have cooperated with the authorities to attain legal permanent residence. The U-Visa encourages people to report crimes without fear of deportation. “These issue are right at the center of human rights,” says Garcia.

When asked what she wanted young Latinas to know about domestic violence and the immigrant community she had a lot of wisdom to share.

“I think people tend to view immigration as an isolated issue that only a few people experience, when in reality immigration is this universal issue that happens all over the world. If you sit 10 people down in a room at least half of those people know an immigrant,” she said.

For Garcia, acknowledging that immigrants make up an important portion of our communities means that “when we confront violence against women we can’t focus only on women who are citizens or who have papers.”

She wants Latinas to be aware that, “it doesn’t matter what immigration status you have, if you are the victim of a crime or the victim of domestic violence, or if someone is pushing you to do something that you don’t want to, than it’s important to know that this isn’t right and that there is something that you can do about it. If it isn’t happening to you, it might be happening to someone you know, or it might happen to someone you’ll meet in the future.”

She took a breath before leaning forward and emphasizing that, “it is important to know that there are people who can help and you don’t need to have hundreds of thousands of dollars to get the assistance that you need.”

Garcia’s last comment points to the importance of organizations like Las Americas. Immigration law is complicated. Cases take a long time and require lots of complex paperwork to be filled out correctly, efficiently, and then sent to the right government office. Very few people could get all of that done without legal assistance from an attorney or someone professionally trained in immigration law. Unfortunately, hiring a lawyer can be extremely expensive (not to mention the money the government charges you just to turn in you paperwork!) and many of the people who qualify for VAWA or U-visas are low income. So Garcia and the other wonderful ladies of Las Americas work to provide immigrants with quality legal care at low cost. For Garcia it all comes down to giving back.

“As a Latina and a low-income person who had the opportunity to be educated, I think it’s kind of an obligation to give back to your community at some point in your career. I think I’ve been blessed to be able to do that here. It would be so cool if everybody thought like that,” she said.

Career Spotlight: Reporter

Name: Denise Olivasdenise-olivas-image-jpg

Position & Title: Reporter/Anchor

Employer: KVIA

Location: El Paso, TX

What are some of your job responsibilities?
I am a reporter for Good Morning El Paso and co-anchor for ABC-7 at Noon. Some of my responsibilities include gathering stories, conducting interviews, and writing and editing stories for newscasts.

Describe your educational background and how it helped you prepare for your career.
I graduated from Riverside High School in 2004. Immediately following I continued my education at the University of Texas at El Paso. I graduated in 2009 with a degree in Communication – Electronic Media. The classes I took in college taught me how important writing is in a journalism career. It is a very different style of writing that takes a lot of practice.

How did you find your current job?
I started at KVIA in 2009 as an intern. Several weeks after my internship ended, I was called back and offered a job opening as a producer/writer.

What did you do to prepare for a career in the media?
I made sure to finish my college education. My internship at KVIA also gave me a front row experience of television news and all the work it takes to put a newscast together.

What is your favorite part of your job?
I really enjoy meeting the people of El Paso and the stories they have to share. I like telling their stories and appreciate that they allow me to do so. I also enjoy covering breaking news.

What is the most challenging part of your job?
Breaking news and deadlines are the most challenging. It always keeps me on my toes. As a reporter, I always have to be ready in the event something major happens.

What advice would you give to help a girl prepare for a job like yours?
Education is key!

What do you do for fun when you are not working?
I really enjoy working out when I’m not at work. It really helps relieve stress and keeps me strong and healthy.

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