This fieldwork project has shown how Latino immigrants keep their folk art and traditions for many years after moving to the United States. They strongly emphasize sharing and teaching younger generations, therefore enriching East Tennessee's cultural life. For some, traditional family recipes or folk arts provide a link to the past; yet for others, it is a bridge to the future. Although a few may reach professional status, crafts and traditions are most often practiced as non commercial pass times, but some use their talent as a secondary income source.
Personal stories shared were compelling and deeply enriching. Folk artists of every walk of life opened their homes to show their talents or their crafts. They conversed with field researchers in Spanish, sharing memories, parts of their native country that still live within them. The audio and video documentation in this work shows regional differences of spoken Spanish language. Other languages (Indigenous languages, Portuguese, Hebrew) surfaced as well, testament of a diverse cultural background, and the variety of cultures in the Latino World.
Latino cultural traditions are practiced most often socially, folk arts and crafts are used or practiced on holidays or special occasions. Folk arts reinforce unspoken common bonds. A sense of community and belonging—both, for those who share or perform, and those who witness and understand—with profound psychological benefits. Various religious as well as cultural public events in the region provide an opportunity for the community at large to appreciate, learn, and generally participate. Artists often expressed they valued cultural organizations such as HoLa because of their desire to meet other artists and greater opportunities to share their art.
Obviously this was not a comprehensive study; it’s just a beginning. We hope to inspire every reader, Latino or not, to explore their culture and that of others. Interested parties can contact us with referrals. Further research will help unveil even more Latino folk artists paint a better picture of Latino traditions in East Tennessee!
For further information or referrals please contact:
HoLa Hora Latina
100 S. Gay Street, Suite 100
Knoxville, TN 37902
Tennessee Arts Commission, Folklife Program
(615) 532-0169 Fax (615)741-8559
401 Charlotte Avenue
Nashville, TN 37243-0780
Photo 102: Day of the Dead decorations at Casa HoLa. Photo by Coral Getino.