OjO Latino: A Photovoice Project in Recognition of the Latino Presence in Pittsburgh, PA
Keywords:PhotoVoice, Community Art Project, Latino Immigrants
In recent years, the Latino population has increased rapidly in areas with traditionally low concentration of Latinos. In these emerging communities, Latinos often live scattered, confronting social isolation and social services not tailored to serve their cultural and linguistic needs. Latinos’ invisibility in Pittsburgh is evidenced by the absence of records of the Latino presence in the city’s museums and public archives. OjO Latino, a community engaged project, sought to advance the inclusion of the Latino community in Pittsburgh through Photovoice. This participatory expression methodology enables individuals to share their stories with the larger public through cultural and artistic expression. The intentional organization of the project as a group activity facilitated the transfer of power over the project to participants, creating solidarity and fomenting trust. During four meetings participants took part in a short photography training, discussed their photographs addressing the meaning of being Latino in Pittsburgh, and selected 34 photographs for exhibition organizing them in four themes: Work, Costumes, Family and Landscape and climate. OjO Latino held one exhibit in a community venue and another one at the university. In addition, the photographs are available in an electronic public repository. OjO Latino served a dual purpose of expanding the visibility of Latinos in and educating the larger community. The OjO Latino team got closer to the ways Latino immigrants see and experience the city. Their gaze challenged our own views and experiences and also spoke the saliency of nostalgia and social networks in their lives. The open discussion of what it means to be Latino in an emerging community and the opportunity to produce a visual account of it, along with the acknowledgment of the presence of this diverse population promote human rights, ethnic identity as well as mental and social health.
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