Lindsay Ravetz ’25
On Feb. 16, Café Con Leche and Pitzer Latinx Student Union presented the 5C Latinx Student Art Showcase at the Benton Museum of Art. Live music drifted through the museum’s open glass doors, merging with the soundtrack of “oohs” and “ahhs” inspired by the artwork within the gallery space. Viewers roamed around the colorful tables lining the room’s perimeter. They engaged with the artists and browsed art to purchase, including earrings crafted from stained glass, digitally designed prints of abstract faces, and zines depicting a collection of Latinx Rock and Roll artists.
“The museum doesn’t have to be a white cube, it can be something more,” said Corina Silverstein ’25. “It has made me feel a lot of pride… not just in my own identity but also in my own friends here who share similar identities, that we can come together and create something beautiful.”
Silverstein nurtured their vision of the 5C Latinx Student Art Showcase until it was finally brought to life. In collaboration with Café Con Leche and Pitzer Latinx Student Union, Silverstein transformed the “white cube” into a space to celebrate Latinx creatives sharing a wide spectrum of art.
Other vendors and artists shared Silverstein’s sentiment, feeling gratified for the sense of kinship that the event brought them. “I feel like it’s been a while since we’ve been able to have convivencia [being in community] again and I feel like this is it, finally,” Alexa PZ ’23, a student creative selling Valentine’s Day inspired prints at the showcase, said.
The warm, welcoming atmosphere permeated each aspect of the exhibit. Silverstein aimed to foster a space where community members “feel a sense of family… like a backyard party.” They aimed to focus on sharing the joy of the Latinx experience.
Silverstein’s own artistic talent was on display at the showcase as well. Their digital photographs were presented alongside film photographs by Maralina Caldas ’25. The pair hosted a Latinx Heritage Month Photoshoot where students were encouraged to wear cultural pride.
Silverstein reflected on the process of taking these photos with the backdrop of the Spanish hacienda-style arches and mural in the Margaret Fowler Garden. “Everyone kind of had this love, hate, complicated relationship with [the garden],” said Silverstein. “But they were very happy to see that they could be in front of it and the focus was on them.” Silverstein was especially intrigued by the strong, beautiful stories associated with the clothing people chose to wear.
In the middle of the evening, the slideshow of photos paused to show Queerinidad, a short film by Osbaldo Ozuna CMC ’24 and Sofia Marquez Gomez PZ ’25. Silence fell over the room as viewers gathered around the screen.
The film focused on the stories of two students sharing their relationships with queerness and Latinidad. In this moving film, students expressed the challenges of rejecting heteronormativity in Latinx culture and embracing their queer identities with their families.
Expanding the meaning of Latinidad was a focus for other student creatives, like Alé Rodriguez PZ ’24. Rodriguez encourages “really questioning what Latinidad means” and asking, “how can artistry get us to more truer definitions of what Latinidad is?”
After showing Queerinidad, viewers continued to enjoy the showcase’s art, empanadas, and uplifting atmosphere. The event provided an opportunity to share, appreciate, and engage with the creativity of the 5C Latinx community.
“This event is nothing without continually supporting — not just the arts — but supporting Latinx folks, supporting BIPOC folks, supporting queer BIPOC folks,” Silverstein said. “So I hope that this event reminds people that this work is not just worth it, but is thriving and needs to be supported.”
Image Source: Café con Leche Instagram @cafeconlechescr