Latinx Arts Weekend Invites Students into Latinx Culture through Mural Painting and Dance

The mural painting event allowed the Andover community to come together and express themselves with art.

Ribbons bearing the colors of various Latinx countries’ flags stream out of a large pink-and-purple heart in the center of a spray-painted mural. As the day went on, students added their own flair to the artwork. This mural, created outside the Underwood Room last Sunday during Latinx Arts Weekend, was hosted by the art organization Elevated Thoughts, located in Lawrence.

Wilfred Ascot, the Elevated Thoughts artist on site, said, “The whole purpose of this event is to give people a greater sense of empathy towards other ethnic backgrounds, and art is a great medium for doing so. Community empowerment is our goal, and [it] is powerful. Imagine the entire community interacting together.”

Latinx Arts Weekend took place this past weekend, and consisted of a series of four events from Friday to Sunday. Alianza Latina, an affinity group for members of the Latinx community, organized the events with the intention of celebrating Latinx culture.

“We’re just trying to share our culture and spread awareness. We want our Latinx students to feel represented and feel like they belong on this campus. We want all of campus to try our dances, hear our music, taste our food, and hear our stories. We want them to just be open to these new things, have a good time, and enjoy themselves alongside us.” said Emily Ortiz ’19, co-head of Alianza Latina.

Besides the events over the weekend, Alianza Latina also invited this week’s All-School Meeting (ASM) speaker Lorella Praeli to campus. The club hoped that her talk would spark conversations surrounding immigration and ability.

“One of our previous board members heard [Praeli] talk at a conference and thought the community would benefit from hearing her story… As a DREAMer herself, Lorella Praeli would bring an important, and often mystified, perspective to campus. Students have also acknowledged numerous times the lack of visibility regarding ability on campus, so we were hoping she could speak on that as well,” said Ortiz.

Salsa Night, Elevated Thoughts, a potluck, and a performance by Grupo Fantasia, a band that specializes in music from Caribbean and Latin America, allowed students to experience various aspects of Latinx culture. Grupo Fantasia held their performance in Underwood on Sunday and encouraged students to dance along to their music.

Ashley Alvarez ’20, a board member of Alianza Latina, said “I think [the Grupo Fantasia Performance] bonded people together — people who don’t even know how to dance. [For] some of the dances like salsa or bachata or merengue, everyone was willing to teach, so teaching part of our culture is a huge part to why we did it.”

Salsa Night took place in Susie’s on Friday night and featured two instructors.

“It was really difficult, but it was actually so much fun because it was a really comfortable and inviting environment… a fun experience to have with friends and appreciate something that we’re not that used to together. I think some people enjoying a culture that’s different from [their own] brings a type of diversity to campus that is sometimes missing,” said Stella Kotzabasakis ’19.

Latinx Weekend also meant that Latinx students at Andover could reconnect with their heritage and feel a little more at home this past weekend.

“My parents are from Colombia, and here, we can’t enjoy authentic food and other aspects of Latinx culture, so it’s really nice to gather together,” said Laura Ospina ’22.

Will Harmon ’22 added, “We can’t appreciate our roots and ancestry these days, this event helps people to do just that.”