There are about 32 Spanish-speaking countries in the world, and
nine of them are represented at the fourth annual Apex Latino Arts Festival.
The festival is June 1, but art lovers can get an advance sneak peek at the oil paintings, stencils and photographs at the Halle Cultural Arts Center. The exhibit, which features about a dozen Latino artists from throughout North Carolina, opened Friday and will remain on display until the festival.
"We want to be able to show not that we are Latino but the differences between our countries," said Bladmir Flores of Cary, an organizer for the event.
Titania Delgado, 37, of Raleigh said she takes part because she appreciates the diversity of the artists and their home countries. Delgado, born in Nicaragua, said many people have become more educated when it comes to diversity.
"I used to get asked all the time what part of Mexico I was from," she said. "I would have to tell them, 'I'm Nicaraguan.'?"
Delgado uses stones and materials from Nicaragua to make jewelry. She relies on her family and a few trips to her home country each year to get the materials she needs.
Exhibit coordinator Juliet Torrellas of Cary, who is Venezuelan, said she searched for geographic diversity.
"What I want people to see is that our Latin culture is diverse," Torrellas said.
Torrellas, 50, paints landscapes, and her inspiration comes from her home country: She paints waterfalls, the countryside and boats using vibrant colors.
Iris Montalvo, a Puerto Rican who lives in Cary, has been coming to the festival since its first year, in 2008. She was at Friday's opening reception and got her first look at the art.
"I think it's super," she said. "I think the first year was a test to see if it would work; but we have arrived. We have made ourselves known."
Mexican artist Cornelio Campos' roots are apparent in his work. A massive acrylic painting titled "Virgen de Guadalupe" features the Virgin Mary.
"More generations need to be exposed to our roots," said Campos, a Durham-based artist whose work has been featured at UNC and Duke University and at galleries around the state.
While Campos' work leaves no doubt about his roots, Nora Hernandez's art might leave patrons scratching their heads. It doesn't depict cultural scenes or historical events from her native Honduras. The abstract paintings are black and white.
In "Conciencia," a nude female figure is wrapped around a white ball with a black background.
"The conscious is nude," explained Hernandez, 47, of Raleigh. "In order to hear your conscious, you have to be transparent."
The exhibit also features teen Latino artists. Ciara Delgado, 15, of Apex considers herself an artist who happens to be a Latina: She is of Nicaraguan and Puerto Rican descent.
"I think it's very important to remember the language and what my roots are," Delgado said.
Her detailed pencil drawings of leaves and flowers show her love of nature.
"I love the amount of detail I can put in a small picture," she said.
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