The Valentine’s newest exhibition, Nuestras Historias: Latinos in Richmond, is the first bilingual exhibition in Virginia to explore and document Richmond’s diverse Latino heritage. The new exhibit explores the Latino American dream as depicted through firsthand stories, objects and photography.
Wanda Hernández, the museum’s Latino project curator, completed sixty-five interviews to gather oral histories and family material for the exhibition. Nuestras Historias connects Latino stories of the past with those of today while exploring themes of immigration, identity, language, education and community.
“The exhibition tells vignettes consisting of various personal narratives that make up a greater history,” Hernández said. “Entrepreneurs, business owners and internationally renowned artists shared their stories for this exhibit about how they created opportunities for themselves in Richmond.”
With displays in English and Spanish, the Valentine hopes visitors recognize the depth to which Latinos are part of the fabric of America’s past, present, and future, she said.
Exhibition highlights include interviews and items from prominent Latinos in Richmond, including Eduardo Dawson and Argentina Ortega, co-owners of La Sabrosita Bakery; Christina Frijuckic of Christy’s Beauty Salon; Tanya González of Sacred Heart Center; Ana Ines King, founder of the Latin Ballet of Virginia; Marlysse Simmons and Rei Alvarez from the salsa band Bio Ritmo; Pastor Carmen and Victor Torres of New Life Outreach International Church and Ministry; Kevin Davis from Ban Caribe; Kevin LaMarr Jones of Claves Unidos; and Secretary Nancy Rodrigues and Deputy Secretary Jaime Areizaga-Soto from the Commonwealth of Virginia’s Cabinet.
From 1990 to 2010, the American South had the fastest growing Latino population in the United States. According to the Pew Research Center, Virginia’s population alone grew 92 percent from 2000 to 2010. Based on U.S. Census Bureau data, there are now approximately 100,000 Latinos who live in Richmond.
The Valentine collaborated with Richmond Public Libraries, Sacred Heart Center, and University of Richmond for this exhibition.