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These articles were excerpted from Tapestry, a weekly newsletter that examines the arts and entertainment world in Charlotte and North Carolina.

Charlotte's Latino photographers build community with group show

Hector Vaca Cruz (right) discusses where to hang photos for the Los Fotógrafos 2 exhibition with featured photographer Juan Manuel Mejía.
Kayla Young
/
WFAE/La Noticia
Hector Vaca Cruz (right) discusses where to hang photos for the Los Fotógrafos 2 exhibition with featured photographer Juan Manuel Mejía.

A dozen Latino and Spanish-speaking photographers will exhibit their work this month at the VAPA Center. "Los Fotógrafos 2" ("The Photographers 2") is the second group photography show by Charlotte’s OBRA Collective, dedicated to promoting Latino and immigrant creatives.

For many of the photographers, this show will be their first exhibition. For others, it’s their first since emigrating to the United States.

OBRA Collective’s Hector Vaca Cruz says the show is a way to both elevate Latino creators and help them connect with the broader Charlotte community.

"One photographer told me he jumped three feet up in the air when he heard that he was in the show," he said. "This is an opportunity for people to really get to showcase their talent, and since it’s a small gallery, they don't have to be so nervous."

Featured photographers gather Tuesday at the OBRA Collective Gallery to discuss the upcoming show.
Kayla Young
/
WFAE/La Noticia
Featured photographers gather Tuesday at the OBRA Collective Gallery to discuss the upcoming show.

Vaca Cruz exhibited in the first edition of "Los Fotógrafos," a five-person show in June 2022. This year he’s curating, alongside Peruvian photographer Ernesto Moreno and Venezuelan artist Keudis Sánchez.

"Creating a space where creatives who come from Latin America can actually engage in their creative practice, that's amazing," Vaca Cruz said. "That makes us feel so warm on the inside, just knowing that we can create a space so they can pursue what they were able to do at home."

Juan Manuel Mejía is exhibiting his work for the first time. He moved to the U.S. from Colombia as a child. For a long time, he practiced photography as a hobby. Now he’s producing portraits of Latino community members through an Arts and Science Council grant.

“We are marketing entrepreneurs, artists, refugee advocates and, here, you're seeing that we're also photographers, creatives, and we're all within the Latino community,” Mejía said. “I feel like it’s a perfect spot to have my first exhibit.”

Photographer Lara Jaruchik holds up a portrait of her daughter and captures the reflection of other OBRA Collective photographers who will exhibit in the group show.
Kayla Young
/
WFAE/La Noticia
Photographer Lara Jaruchik holds up a portrait of her daughter and captures the reflection of other OBRA Collective photographers who will exhibit in the group show.

Photographer Lara Jaruchik will be showing her work publicly for the first time since she left Spain. She uses her photography to document family life and the growth of her daughters in a photojournalistic style.

“When I became a mother, I started to think all about what it means to be human. It was a little like rediscovering life for me,” she said. “Taking photos was also a way of expressing that discovery. My daughter here, you can see how she’s discovering life at the same time as me.”

The show will feature work by:

The best time to see the exhibition will be Friday from 6 to 8 p.m. at the OBRA Collective Gallery in the VAPA Center at 700 N. Tryon Street. Photographers and other OBRA Collective members will be at the opening to discuss their work. Viewings are available after opening night by appointment.

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Kayla Young is a Report for America corps member covering issues involving race, equity, and immigration for WFAE and La Noticia, an independent Spanish-language news organization based in Charlotte. Major support for WFAE's Race & Equity Team comes from Novant Health and Wells Fargo.