Latinitas is Celebrating 15 Years With a Quinceañera Gala

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Latinitas to Celebrate 15 Years of Tech and Media Education and Girl Empowerment at Quinceañera Gala

AUSTIN, TEXAS (May 22, 2017) – This year, Austin-based Latinitas – the only bilingual and bicultural magazine and digital media and technology nonprofit organization of its kind – will be celebrating its 15th anniversary as many Hispanic girls do – by having a Quinceanera!

Taking place on June 10, 2017, Latinitas’ Quinceañera Gala Presented by Dell EMC will be a modern, chic twist on the Latin American tradition, featuring a choreographed dance, fine photography with a transformation theme for sale, a live and silent auction, tequila tastings and signature cocktails, and cuisine from Mexico’s interior. The Peligrosa-All Star DJs will be performing that night, as well as Stephanie Bergara – lead singer of Selena-cover band Bidi Bidi Banda – and Mayor Steve Adler will be stopping by to say a few words. Colorful cocktail attire and quinceañera dresses are encouraged!

Latinitas will be honoring our “Campeones” – people who have “championed” Latinitas’ mission since its origin through their work and dedication. These honorees include: Producer/Vice President at Troublemaker Studios Elizabeth Avellan; former Austin City Council Member Mike Martinez; Senior Vice President of Univision LA – ATX Luis Patino and his wife Alina; media scholar Dr. Federico Subervi-Velez; and Dell Marketing Director, North America Commercial, Ana Villegas. Quince_Splash_995x600_revised

Latinitas’ signature photography sale at the event welcomes contributions from world-class photographers such as Dulce Pinzon, whose work was featured at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, and Danielle Villasana, whose long-term project, “A Light Inside” on the life-threatening challenges trans women face throughout Latin America will be featured at the World Press Photo Festival this year.

“We couldn’t have picked a better theme than a quinceañera to celebrate the impact of Latinitas over the past 15 years. Girls transform in Latinitas, they find their voice and a transcendent support system,” said Laura Donnelly, co-founder and CEO. “As an organization, we have reached an exciting precipice of growth that includes stretching our program reach to new spaces – we are that girl who has grown up and is now ready to conquer new frontiers!”

Originated by the Aztecs, the quinceañera was a rite of passage for girls into warrior-hood that has evolved through the century to denote a girl’s transformation into womanhood. At 15 years old, her maturity and growth is acknowledged by her family and other loved ones through a variety of rituals. Although the tradition is not new, quinceañeras are still wildly popular among young girls of Latin American heritage and the parties have become more extravagant over time.

Latinitas’ magazine, still the only publication made for and by young Latinas, was founded in a class at the University of Texas at Austin in 2002 by then-students Alicia Rascon and Laura Donnelly, fed up with the lack and misrepresentation of Latinas in media and technology. The two also developed dozens of no- or low-cost after-school clubs, weekend workshops, camps, and conferences at 112 schools, libraries, public housing sites, and community centers, as well as dozens more in Central and West Texas. Latinitas has provided over 25,000 girls ages nine through 18 with esteem-building lessons in media, technology, and cultural literacy. Latinitas is one of a handful of organizations delivering tech education in a bilingual and bicultural format nationally and the only nonprofit in Austin doing so for 15 years.

Tickets to the Quinceañera Gala are available for purchase at www.LatinitasGala.com. Proceeds will benefit Latinitas’ ongoing programs.  

Contact: Vicky Garza / 512-900-0304 / vicky@latinitasmagazine.org

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ABOUT LATINITAS

Latinitas, an Austin-based nonprofit organization, is dedicated to empowering Latina youth using media and technology, providing direct digital media and technology training and esteem-boosting services to nearly 3,500 girls and teens across Texas annually – 2,000 in Central and 1,500 more in West Texas. Latinitas envisions a future in which all Latinas are strong and confident in their image. Girls and families in Latinitas learn the latest Web 2.0 platforms to design websites, do graphic design, produce video, record audio, blog, do photography, invent social media campaigns, develop video games and mobile apps, coding and robotics ensuring new and diverse voices in media and technology. Latinitas also produces the only magazine of its kind, Latinitasmagazine.org (25,000 monthly viewers), and its own social media network, MyLatinitas.com (1,400 registered girls).

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Beyond the Canvas: Latino Museums

Museums are keys to analyzing our past and understanding our present. Museums document and provide an enriching and educational look into culture. Few museums in the United States are dedicated to Latino culture and studies, yet those that do exist are rich with Latino cultural artifacts, art and are dedicated to educating their communities about their raízes. Gather your friends and family for Latinitas’ own museum walk.

Courtesy from Mexic-art.org

Mexic-Arte — Austin, Texas
Mexic-Arte
is Texas’ official Mexican and Mexican-American art museum, located on Congress Avenue in the heart of downtown Austin. Founded in 1983 by artists Sylvia Orozco, Pio Pulido and Sam Coronado, it gained non-profit status in 1984 and has been featuring exhibitions ever since. Mexic-Arte holds annual summer and fall exhibitions. Summer exhibitions feature a Latino artist under 35, and the Fall exhibition is
Día de los Muertos-themed. Mexic-Arte is pan-Latino, meaning they feature artists from all Latino identities. They recently held an exhibit called “Masked: Changing Identities”.

“Mexic-Arte caters to a community that is underserved,” said Claudia Zapata, curator of exhibitions and programs. Education programming is a large part of the Mexic-Arte mission. Students learn how to screenprint and use other computer software. Mexic-Arte has helped foster other non-profit projects, such as The Serie Project. Mexic-Arte is an important asset to the Texas Latino population.

Courtesy from Brownpride.com

El Museo del Barrio — New York, New York
Located in New York’s Museum Mile, El Museo del Barrio has a history originating in the Civil Rights Movement of 1969. Founder Raphael Montañez Ortiz, an educator and activist, opened El Museo in response to African-American and Puerto Rican parents and activists concerned that their children weren’t receiving an education that acknowledged their heritage. Originally a museum primarily for Puerto Rican art, it is now open to showcasing and preserving all Latin American and Caribbean cultures. The museum recently exhibited the “Superreal: alternative realities in photography and video.”

El Museo prides itself on its community outreach, educating the community through bilingual programs, festivals, and its vast art collection. According to their website, part of their mission is to “enhance the sense of identity, self-esteem and self-knowledge of the Caribbean and Latin American peoples.

National Museum of Mexican Art — Chicago, Illinois

Courtesy from rediscoverthewindycity.com

Chicago’s largely Mexican-American Pilsen neighborhood is home to the National Museum of Mexican Art. The NMMA was founded in 1987 after Carlos Tortolero organized a group of educators who shared his vision of art, education and social justice. The NMMA boasts a large collection of works by Mexican artists from both sides of the U.S. and Mexico border. The NMMA has traveling exhibitions across the U.S. and Mexico, adhering to their philosophy of Mexican culture being sin fronteras. 

With one of the largest art collections in the country, the museum’s education programs reach more than 60,000 K-12 students each year, according to their website. The NMMA also has acclaimed performing arts programs that highlight rich Mexican music, dance and theater. Admission to the museum is always free. They have hosted exhibits like artist Sergio Gomez’s collection “Puertas Abiertas/Open Doors.”

Museum of Latin American Art — Long Beach, California

Courtesy from Molaa.com

Serving the Los Angeles area and located in the East Village Arts District of Long Beach, the Museum of Latin American Art was founded in 1996 by Robert Gumbiner. “Our exhibitions focus on the diversity of modern (early 1900s) and contemporary art (present) in Latin America,” said Rebecca Horta, Associate Curator of Education. MOLAA features only Latin American art by artists with ties to a Latin American country.

MOLAA features a wide array of programs dealing with education, art, cooking, dance and a bilingual summer art camp. The museum hosts a free Annual Women’s Day Festival in March. This year’s festival happened March 10 and featured women artists, dancers and musicians. MOLAA features multiple exhibitions at a time and has its own magazine called the MOLAA Museum Magazine. They recently launched an exhibition entitled Loteria: An Interpretation of MOLAA’s Permanent Collection.

Currently, an effort by the Smithsonian is being made to open a national Latino museum on the National Mall in Washington D.C. Opening the museum is an uphill battle, but the Smithsonian has begun the Smithsonian Latino Center in an effort to develop a plan of action and to help with funding the project.

Pasadena, TX

I grew up in Pasadena, a city on the outskirts of Houston. My childhood memories make my hometown so special to me. Pasadena is where I had friends and family within walking distance, and I first learned how to drive on its streets.
There is a majority of Hispanics who live in Pasadena, so people share similar values and traditions, such as making tamales for Christmas. The urban setting is more active than a country setting, and you find people walking the streets to the grocery store, to the apartments, or wherever else they need to be. There are street vendors at many corners, selling juicy watermelons or beautiful flowers, and strip malls where you can find good bargains. My favorite restaurants are those that serve fresh-made food, not fast food. La Hacienda, or “my mom’s friend’s restaurant” as me and my three sisters like to call it, has great food at a low price. Nearby, you can satisfy your sweet tooth at El Nopal Bakery. This panaderia and pasteleria has it all: pastries, cookies, frozen ice cream bars, tres leches cake, churros, flan, capirotada (a bread pudding). The huge cake for the quinceñeria of each girl in the family, I had no brothers, came from El Nopal.
The best things to do in my hometown are going out to restaurants, shopping, or visiting places in Downtown Houston. The Metrorail will take you where you want to go, when you figure out the how the transportation system works. There are plenty of events to go to, whether it’s a volunteer activity, concert, or sports game. I have seen the Houston Dynamo play soccer and frequently go to the Toyota Center basketball court to cheer on my favorite sports team, the Houston Rockets.

You can find fun things to do inside the city as well. Neighborhood Network is a huge event for the community. People can meet, eat, and have fun. And kids can have a great time at the petting zoo, train rides, and a bunch of games including a life-size chess board. There is a rodeo on the Pasadena Fairgrounds, the Strawberry Parade, and the Christmas Lighting in front of city hall.

The weather is hot and humid, because it is so close to the gulf coast. People usually go to the beach in Galveston or visit Moody Gardens during vacations. Visitors should take a trip to the San Jacinto Monument, the world’s tallest war memorial at 570 feet high and a 220-ton, 34-foot high star on top. The monument is part of the San Jacinto Battleground State Historic Site, located along the Houston Ship Channel. This historic landmark honors those who fought for Texas’ Independence and the Texas lone star on top commemorates the site of the Battle of San Jacinto, an important battle during the Texas Revolution. There is a museum at the base of the monument, a nice park and huge lake where people can relax, and a battleship tour available for visitors.

Pasadena High School, the school I attended, also has a lot of hometown history behind it. It is 50 years old and has seen big storms, renovations, and much school spirit also known as “eagle pride.” Some alumni became world war veterans, who are still honored in special school events.

I lived in Pasadena for almost 18 years and have moved since then. Although my family and I live 30 minutes away, I still feel like I am part of Pasadena. Who you are with and how your time is spent is a big part of your life experience. Any place can be special as long as you try to make it fun!

I still go back to Pasadena occasionally, when I want great Mexican food or some delectable donuts.

February 2011