Designed by Frederick Luis Aldama, Professor at the College of Liberal Arts Latinx Pop Lab is a new area on campus where members of the UT community can access resources to have conversations about Latinx and BIPOC culture and enjoy their media and comic creations, beginning October 12 on the fourth floor the Patton Hall.
According to the website, the purpose of the pop lab is “to let the world know that UT Austin is the place for breakthrough creative, intellectual and curatorial work” in Latinx media. As an associate professor at Ohio State University, Aldama said the diversity of people and culture drew him to Austin.
“UT Austin, if you’re doing anything Latino, Latina, Latinx — especially in cultural studies spaces, but pretty much anywhere — is the place to be,” Aldama said. “Austin as a city, as a cultural space for the arts, for music, for all the things I love, especially from the brown and black communities, just seemed like a natural fit.”
England senior Veronica Alcantar said while she’s not yet sure what to expect from the pop lab, she’s excited to see what it will bring to campus culture.
“I’m interested in it, I just haven’t had the time to actually look it up and figure out exactly what it is,” said Alcantar, who is one of Aldama’s students.
In Aldama’s classes, students dissect entertainment media, including films and comics, in conversation, said England junior Kirsten Padilla. She added that her experiences in the classroom excite her about what this project could be.
“I think Professor Aldama is doing a great job exploring the intersections between otherness and whiteness, and this exploration helps me open my eyes to liking what the traditional media has been doing to everyone on a broad scale,” Padilla said.
The Latinx Pop Lab will have many events throughout the year, in addition to a big event in March called BIPOC Pop, Aldama said. This annual event brings together UT creatives, academics and industry leaders working in media arts to focus on empowering the POC community.
“We’re going to be hosting a podcast happy hour so students can come over and talk about anything that’s going on in the media,” Aldama said. “I’m going to do these kinds of micro-events where we bring together scholars and creatives from across the country to brainstorm but also create comics.”
Aldama said the next step for the Latinx Pop Lab is to source all of the materials needed to prepare it for the ribbon-cutting ceremony, but supply chain issues have made this difficult for the Latinx Pop Lab team.
“We think it’s done or about to be done, and then we hear there’s a delay,” Aldama said. “I’m confident it will be mid-October.”
Aldama said the goal of the Latinx Pop Lab is to provide a space with no expectations, as opposed to a classroom, where everyone can enjoy art, the process of making it, and the culture it embodies.
“Students on campus, faculty on campus (know) that this space is for them to come together, explore, and generate new knowledge and stories, but also a bridge to our community,” Aldama said.