Tuscarawas County Latino students explore culture through photography

NEW PHILADELPHIA ― For Dover High sophomore Daisy Raymundo, taking part in a summer arts camp provided a chance to explore her own Guatemalan culture through photography.

“It has helped me not only learn more about who I am, and what my culture means to me,” the 15-year-old said. “It has helped me really connect more to my family and to the people who are part of where my parents come from.”

She said her imagery of clothing and food “shows how colorful and beautiful our culture really is.”

Her work, and that of nine other Latino and Hispanic students in grades six through 12, is on display at the Tuscarawas County Public Library, 121 Fair Ave. NW. They created their images and accompanying narratives in the Adelante Arts Camp held over the summer . Adelante is Spanish for “go ahead.” The camp’s theme is “Art That Moves Us Forward.”

The camp was inspired by the Latino Mural Project that the Tuscarawas Arts Partnership and the Tuscarawas County Public Library System organized in summer 2021. Students collaborated on the mural “Brighter Together” on the east side of MAD Bros. Games & Hobbies at 139 W. High Ave. in downtown New Philadelphia.

More:Brighter Together: Latino mural in 12 panels joins public art in downtown New Philadelphia

Joseph Welty Middle School seventh grader Araceli Ajanel Herrera participated in both projects.

In the narrative accompanying her photography, Araceli said she learned how to take a proper picture and edit it to make it better.

“I feel good about the pictures I have taken because I can remember the moment I took the picture and have a good memory,” she wrote. “I like to take pictures of different things ― family, new places and desserts.”

Adelante Arts Camp’s goal is to provide an environment for local Latino students to creatively express themselves, share their stories and explore new art forms that will celebrate their culture and individuality, according to Wilma K. Mullet, executive director of the Tuscarawas Arts Partnership.

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Photographer instructor Madi Weaver said at Tuesday’s opening reception for the exhibit that she is proud of the students.

“I am blown away by you guys,” she said. “The students have worked so hard learning their cameras. I think it really paid off. They did an amazing job. I just hope that everyone is so proud of themselves and that they look at themselves as a true photographer and artist from this.”

More:New mural proclaims “Greetings from New Philadelphia”

Sherrel Rieger was to work as a translator at the arts camp, but took on another role because all the students wanted to speak English.

“I was their cheerleader telling them to write about their life here in the United States and their culture in the United States,” Rieger said. “I saw that they have such a pride for their country and their culture in their hearts, and for their familes. And we see it in all of their pictures.”

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Noelia Sica, an eighth grader from Dover, took pictures of her mother cooking Guatemalan food, along with images of colorful, sparkly clothing.

“At first, I was a little embarrassed about my culture, but I learned that it is unique and I should not be embarrassed,” she wrote.

Juan Ajanel Velásquez, a seventh grader from New Philadelphia, wrote that he took a picture of his baby cousin Babu “because he is so special to me.”

Other images reflect local places, such as a nighttime shot of New Philadelphia’s Welcome to Our City sign, in which the lighted words appear to hover in the sky, their underlying structure lost in the darkness.

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Photos and writings of the students are collected in a book entitled “Through Our Lens: A Glimpse at Our Latino Culture.” Copies may be ordered until Oct. 28 through the Tuscarawas Arts Partnership website at Adelante Arts Camp — Tuscarawas Arts Partnership. Proceeds will go to next summer’s camp.

Donors and supporters for the 2022 Adelante Arts Camp were Friends of the Library, Hugh A. Fraiser Fund, ProVia, United Way and the Walmart Community Grant.

Raymundo expressed gratitude for the opportunity to participate in the arts camp.

“I’m really thankful for the people that called out to me to be part of the program because that means they had me in their minds,” she said.

Other students featured in the exhibit are: Santiaga Hernández Hernández, an eighth grader from New Philadelphia; Seperina Hernández Hernández, a seventh grader from New Philadelphia; Yohayra Mejía Agustín, an 11th grader from Dover; Brayden Mendoza-Ramírez, a sixth grader from New Philadelphia Philadelphia; Yonny Mendoza-Ramírez, a ninth grader from New Philadelphia; and Sara Petrona Cedillo de León, from Dover.

Reach Nancy at 330-364-8402 or nancy.molnar@timesreporter.com.

On Twitter: @nmolnarTR

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