Social media influencer Laurita Tellado goes inside the Orlando Museum of Art for a look at its Hispanic Heritage Month offerings and other treasures.
Having been raised Puerto Rican in the U.S., I always had a lot of questions for my parents while growing up — about my heritage, about idioms and expressions we Latinos use, about where I come from and what it means.
Discover: Hispanic & Latino Culture in Orlando
Regrettably, as much as Latin culture was such an important part of life for our family, we didn’t go out of our way to visit Hispanic museum exhibits, watch documentaries on pivotal events in Latino history, or read a lot of books celebrating our heritage. In truth, I always felt caught between two cultures — never “American” enough despite being a U.S. citizen at birth, and not quite Latina, either, having been raised outside of Puerto Rico.
Hispanic Heritage Month is commemorated from September 15 to October 15 every year in the U.S., and I couldn’t have been more honored to be invited by Visit Orlando to go to the Orlando Museum of Art (OMA) and explore their many Hispanic- and Latin-influenced ongoing exhibits. Join me for a look at all they have to offer.
All interior images courtesy Laurita Tellado and Orlando Museum of Art.
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Hispanic Culture Comes to Life at the Orlando Museum of Art
Part of Loch Haven Park in Orlando’s Ivanhoe Village Main Street district, the Orlando Museum of Art was founded in 1924 and welcomes more than 130,000 visitors annually. One of the most fascinating ongoing exhibits is their Art of the Ancient Americas (pre-Columbian) collection, which features works from many indigenous nations from North, Central and South America.
Discover: Orlando Museums & Galleries
Spanning almost 3,000 years, this collection began with gifts from collectors Howard Campbell in 1972 and Howard Phillips (son of Dr. Philip Phillips) in 1980. The exhibit showcases works by master artists of the Ancestral Pueblo peoples of the American Southwest, the Classic Maya Kingdoms, the Inka (Inca) Empire, and the Peruvian desert civilizations of the Nasca and Moche.
The items showcased in this exhibit shed light on these indigenous societies and their daily lives. From symbols of wealth and power to tokens representing fertility, each item tells a story of what these communities valued most.
In April of this year, the Orlando Museum of Art unveiled “The Outwin: American Portraiture Today,” a major exhibition from the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery. With 42 works selected as finalists from over 2,700 entries, this special exhibit features pieces by finalists from 14 states, plus Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico.
Some works by Latinx artists on display include Vincent Valdez’s “People of the Sun (Grandma and Grandpa Santana),” Narsiso Martinez’s “Cherry,” Frank Blazquez’s “The Gallegos Twins from Belen, NM,” Mari Hernandez’s “Silia,” and Elsa María Meléndez’s “Milk.” The artwork presented by Latinx artists is as diverse as the rich cultures they represent, highlighting topics including misogyny, the perils immigrants face at the Mexico-U.S. border, pride in one’s heritage, and the vital role of immigrant field workers.
One of the many thought-provoking pieces in the exhibit is “Milk,” a textile-based work that depicts a determined woman carrying a limp bull as milk drips from her breasts. Puerto Rican artist Elsa María Meléndez used different fabrics to portray women’s strength as many have spoken out amidst an increase in gender-based violence in Puerto Rico, and particularly how women are still called upon to “nurse the beast that sustains patriarchy.”
In addition to the many Hispanic works, the Orlando Museum of Art houses both ongoing and temporary exhibits from plenty of renowned artists from every genre, including Andy Warhol, Georgia O’Keeffe and Ansel Adams, to name a few.
Hispanic Heritage Month provides the perfect opportunity to learn about the Latinx community’s many rich cultures and their past, celebrate their present achievements, and provide context for future generations. The Orlando Museum of Art offers the ideal space for us to explore in depth our shared humanity. See for yourself the next time you’re in Orlando.
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