By Andrea Orlando
The National Consortium for Creative Placemaking
One of our Summit scholars is a Central-American refugee who settled in Los Angeles and dedicated her life's work to improving the lives of women and refugees. Although NCCP has awarded more than two dozen scholarships to attend the 2019 Pacific Creative Placemaking Leadership Summit, Yarida Arévalo received a special scholarship awarded in memory of Nilda Vazquez Linger.
Arévalo works at Mercado La Paloma, an economic development project of Esperanza Community Housing in Los Angeles. She plans and coordinates music and dance performances, art exhibits, movie showings, street festivals, cultural celebrations, art and craft workshops. She also facilitates trauma-informed art workshops.
She curated an exhibition entitled, "Freeing Our Selves," for International Women's Day this past March. In addition to the exhibit, she produced a cultural evening with an all-female speaker's panel and jazz performance.
Her work is informed by her experience as a Salvadoran-Guatemalan immigrant, who fled the civil wars that devastated the two countries in the 1980's and '90's. She has worked with various non-profits on refugee and immigration issues, as well as children's education and access to affordable health care. More recently, she has focused on art as a medium of expression around those issues. That is new territory for her, which is why she wants to learn about creative placemaking and specifically how to start economic projects with local artists and artisans for their own benefit, as well as the community as a whole.
Freeing Our Selves was a month-long art exhibit in celebration of International Women's Day in March. The call for entries specified that the art should engage women's struggles for emancipation and celebrate their social, political and economic achievements. It also sought art that depicted iconic women who led or influenced the world's women's movement, women who fought anonymously and challenged convention and art that reflects/expresses/meditates on the myriad benefits and costs of fighting for women’s right.
The call resulted in 12 responses, 11 of them from women. Of the women, half were immigrants from Latin-American or Asian Countries.
The celebration also included musical performances by Las Colibrí, an all-female stringed mariachi ensemble and by Ami Kim, a young vocalist, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist. The Women's Panel touched on issues of indigenous rights and the immigration experience.
Nilda Vazquez Linger was an Argentine immigrant and psychologist who worked on issues involving women, children and immigrants. To learn more about her, please go to: https://obits.nj.com/obituaries/starledger/obituary.aspx?n=nilda-linger&pid=189868188
The Nilda Vazquez Linger scholarship supports Summit participants whose work focuses on supporting and empowering women, children or immigrants.