Tuscarawas County Latino students explore culture through photography


NEW PHILADELPHIA ― Daisy Raymundo, a sophomore at Dover High, attending a summer arts camp provided an opportunity to explore her own Guatemalan culture through photography.

“Not only has it helped me learn more about who I am and what my culture means to me,” said the 15-year-old. “It’s helped me really connect more with my family and the people that are part of my parents’ lineage.”

She said her images of clothing and food “show how colorful and beautiful our culture really is.”

Her work and that of nine other Latino and Hispanic students in grades 6 through 12 are held at the Tuscarawas County Public Library, 121 Fair Ave. NW, exhibited. They created their images and accompanying narratives at the Adelante Arts Camp, held over the summer. Adelante is Spanish for “go on”. The theme of the camp is “Art that moves us forward”.

The camp was inspired by the Latino Mural Project organized by the Tuscarawas Arts Partnership and the Tuscarawas County Public Library System in the summer of 2021. Students worked on the Brighter Together mural on the east side of MAD Bros. Games & Hobbies at 139 W. High Avenue in downtown New Philadelphia.

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Joseph Welty Middle School seventh grader Araceli Ajanel Herrera participated in both projects.

In the narration that accompanies her photography, Araceli said she learned how to take a real picture and edited it to make it better.

“I feel good about the pictures I took because I can remember the moment I took the picture and have a good memory,” she wrote. “I like to photograph different things – family, new places and desserts.”

The goal of Adelante Arts Camp is to provide local Latino students with an environment in which to express themselves creatively, share their stories, and explore new art forms that celebrate their culture and individuality, according to Wilma K. Mullet, executive director of the Tuscarawas Arts Partnership.

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Photo teacher Madi Weaver said at the exhibition’s opening reception on Tuesday that she was proud of the students.

“I’m overwhelmed by you,” she said. “The students worked so hard to learn their cameras. I think it really paid off. You did a great job. I just hope everyone is so proud of themselves that it makes them see themselves as real photographers and artists.”

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Sherrel Rieger was supposed to work as a translator at the art camp, but took on a different role because all the students wanted to speak English.

“I was their cheerleader telling them to write about their life here in the United States and their culture in the United States,” Rieger said. “I saw that they have such pride in their hearts and in their families for their country and culture. And we see it in all of her pictures.”

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Noelia Sica, an eighth-grader from Dover, photographed her mother cooking Guatemalan food, along with images of colorful, glittery clothing.

“I was a little embarrassed at first by my culture, but I’ve learned that it’s unique and I shouldn’t be embarrassed,” she wrote.

Juan Ajanel Velásquez, a seventh grader from New Philadelphia, wrote that he took a picture of his little cousin Babu “because he’s so special to me.”

Other images reflect local locations, such as a night shot of New Philadelphia’s Welcome to Our City sign, in which the illuminated words seem to float in the sky, their underlying structure lost in the darkness.

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Photos and texts from the students are collected in a book entitled Through Our Lens: A Glimpse at Our Latino Culture. Copies can be ordered through the Tuscarawas Arts Partnership website at Adelante Arts Camp — Tuscarawas Arts Partnership through October 28. The proceeds will benefit the camp next summer.

Donors and supporters of the 2022 Adelante Arts Camp were Friends of the Library, Hugh A. Fraiser Fund, ProVia, United Way and the Walmart Community Grant.

Raymundo expressed his gratitude for the opportunity to attend the art camp.

“I’m really thankful for the people who asked me to be part of the program because it means they had me on their mind,” she said.

Other students featured in the exhibit are: Santiaga Hernández Hernández, an eighth grader from New Philadelphia; Seperina Hernández Hernández, a seventh grader from New Philadelphia; Yohayra Mejía Agustín, an 11th grader from Dover; Brayden Mendoza-Ramírez, a sixth grader from New Philadelphia; Yonny Mendoza-Ramírez, a ninth grader from New Philadelphia; and Sara Petrona Cedillo de León from Dover.

Reach Nancy at 330-364-8402 or [email protected]

On Twitter: @nmolnarTR



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