KINGSTON, R.I. — Sept. 13, 2023 — The University of Rhode Island will celebrate National Hispanic Heritage Month, Sept. 15 to Oct. 15, with a full slate of events taking place across campus all month long. The series features visual and performance art, food, dance, lectures, and more.
“We are hoping these events will enable opportunities to reimagine and redefine our commitments to justice, community, diversity, and equity,” said William Stark, an assistant teaching professor of Spanish who helped to organize the series. “We are hoping to find new ways to build communities and collaborate on shared futures, by encouraging civic discourse and the respect for honest points of disagreement, especially where people from different cultural backgrounds come together by chance, by choice, or by force.”
The full schedule of events is available at series’ webpage.
The series opens Friday, Sept. 15, with a performance by José Torres-Tama, an award-winning performance artist, poet, playwright, and activist. His critically acclaimed “Aliens, Immigrants & Other Evildoers” is billed as a “sci-fi Latino noir solo show that chronicles the rise in hate crimes against Latin American communities, as the artist deftly shape-shifts into different characters that challenge the dehumanization of immigrants in a system that readily exploits their labor.”
Also beginning Sept. 15 is a month-long art exhibit in Green Hall featuring works by URI alumni AGONZA (aka Angela Gonzalez) and Pablo Youngs. AGONZA, who earned a B.A. in theatre with a minor in art, is a Providence-based artist known for canvases and murals. Youngs, who earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts from URI in 2017, explores the art of stenciling by cutting out graphic images and spray-painting them on canvas.
AGONZA and Youngs will take part in a panel discussion on Sept. 27 titled “¡Presente! Visibilizing Latinx Culture and Identities Today,” which will examine the presence of Latinx art, languages, cultures, and experiences around the world. AGONZA will also lead a communal canvas painting event Sept. 20 in the Multicultural Student Services Center. The event, titled “Culture and Canvas: Latinx Heritage Month Edition,” provides a space for URI community members to express creativity while embracing the Latin American heritage.
Other events through the month include a film series, a presentation by the activist group Migrant Justice, a poetry slam with Chicago-based poet Frankie Soto, and a Fiesta Mexicana featuring Mariachi music, authentic flavors of Mexico, and a piñata.
All of the events are free and open to the public. Stark says he hopes the events will bring the entire URI community together in celebration of a rich cultural heritage.
“By offering a wide variety of academic and culturally engaging events to the Rhode Island and URI communities, we are reflecting the diversity of the Hispanic and Latina presence here in Rhode Island, and to a greater extent the U.S.,” Stark said. “We hope these events contribute to ongoing conversations on culture, gender diversity, identities, border culture, U.S./Mexico relations, and the experiences of Hispanics and Latinos in Rhode Island and on Rhode Island campuses.”
The events are sponsored by the Center for the Humanities; College of Arts and Sciences; Department of Modern and Classical Languages and Literatures; Department of Art and Art History; Department of Theatre; Department of Sociology and Anthropology’s Minor in Latin American, Caribbean, and Latinx Studies; and the Multicultural Student Services Center.