The West Orange Arts Center Presents ‘Visions of Identity’, a Celebration of Hispanic Culture

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The COVID pandemic has taken away our sense of normalcy, the country’s economic stability, and cultural spaces.

No, the virus has not been defeated, nor have we managed to control its spread, but resilience is a matter of life and death for artistic and cultural centers.

And what better way to celebrate the ability to reinvent oneself than by paying tribute to one of the most resilient communities in the country?

The West Orange Arts Council’s first on-site exhibition has dedicated its gallery space to celebrating Hispanic culture through its artistic manifestations.

According to the WOAC press release, its current exhibition, “Visiones de Identidad (Visions of Identity), A Latinx Perspective,” is intended as a celebration while showcasing the work of West Orange Arts Council artists from the area.

Curated by Bloomfield parks, recreation, and cultural affairs adviser Maria Estrela and WOAC volunteer gallery manager Rey Arvelo, the exhibition is open to the public until November 28 by appointment and is also available for viewing online.

Participating artists from throughout the New York City area are Rey Arvelo, Josephine Barreiro, Alberto Bossa, Diana Candelejo, Maria Luis Estrela, Renzo Florez, Stanley Gavidia, Joanna Lopez, Carlos Mateu, Qaasim Munoz, Sylvia Padilla, and Fausto Sevila.

“I wanted to bring artists from Bloomfield and areas together,” said co-curator Estrela, herself a Bloomfield resident and a workshop teacher at the arts center. “The arts have a way of helping create a space where everyone feels welcome and has a voice.”

For his part, co-curator Arvelo, who also works in the Newark Museum of Art’s education department, reflected that the exhibition is an example of resilience amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

“With the current pandemic, many art organizations are using social media and other creative ways to help promote artists and to keep connected with our community,” said co-curator Arvelo, who also works in the education department at the Newark Art Museum. “The important thing is to not dwell so much on the ‘how’ but get it out there and continue to evolve.”

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