This work was commissioned by the Tennessee Arts Commission’s Folklife Program, with the goal of identifying and documenting Latino traditional artists, art forms, and cultural events in East Tennessee.
This essay is a summary of events and interviews from October 2011 to June 2012 recorded by field researchers Rafael Casco and Coral Getino, members of HoLa Hora Latina, a non-profit arts organization in Knoxville. The essay is accompanied by excerpts from audio, video interviews. Unless otherwise specified, pictures or video are by Rafael Casco [RC] or Coral Getino [CG]. Transcribed quotations in this essay were translated into English by CG.
The reasons for this work are best summarized in the words of Lily Henríquez de Flores, one of the folk artists interviewed for the project: Watch Video 2: Interview excerpt: Las Catrachas del Cerro de Plata share the origins and motivation of their Honduran folk dance troupe. Video by Rafael Casco.
"I believe that each culture has something positive. Everyone's roots and culture has something to contribute to the world. Our culture is no different. Our culture has a rich heritage… there are good people and also history. And we can learn from all those things. We also have delicious cuisine, beautiful arts and crafts for the world to see, as well as showing the values we learned at home. [This is] for progress, to help our new generation. More than anything else, we want our children to remember where they are from, what their roots are, their origin. What was their beginning, and from there they set out for a better future in this land, maybe not their own, but also, the new land we have embraced."
Latin Americans who have made their new home in Tennessee bring a wealth of cultural traditions with them. Their folk heritage reflects a fascinating array of indigenous American, African and European roots and historical influences. Identifying and recording the talented individuals who practice and adapt their cultural traditions to a new environment is a crucial step towards building appreciation and tolerance for cultural diversity among all Tennesseans. Another major goal in this project is to expand opportunities for these artists to share their cultural heritage with the public at festivals, exhibitions, and other events. Through this growth of awareness and opportunity, it is to be hoped that more young people will be inspired to carry on their parents’ and grandparents’ artistic inheritance into the next generation.
Photo 3: Grupo Folclórico Santa Cruz Mexican dancers perform at HoLa Festival 2010. Photo by Dana Everts-Boehm.