Residency Program Designed To Diversify Pittsburgh's Art Scene

Jan 7, 2016

A Cafe Con Leche event.
Credit Njaimeh Njie / Cafe Con Leche

A new residency program is aiming to bring more Latino artists to Pittsburgh and diversify the city's art scene. 

Latinos make up about 17 percent of the country’s population, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, but in 2010, only accounted for 2 percent of Pittsburgh’s population.

Tara Sherry-Torres, founder of Cafe Con Leche, which works to bring together the city's Latino community, said Pittsburgh's not on par with the growing Latino populations seen in other major metropolitan cities.

“And that’s not in our favor,” she said. “Because if we really want to be successful and we want lasting efforts that are happening, we need to start thinking about how are we serving people of color? How are people of color represented in the marketing and the advertising, and the arts, and the government, in general, civic structure of the region?”

Sherry-Torres’ organization, along with Most Wanted Fine Art and the Bloomfield Garfield Corporation, is looking to bring several Latino artists to the city for a month at a time, with the hope they will increase the presence of Latino art and experiences.

The artists will live and work at Most Wanted Fine Art’s gallery in Garfield, where they will present their work.

“So there’s even more talent out in the rest of the country and we wanted to bring some of that talent here to Pittsburgh and incorporate it into our work. And also, just sort of show how the country itself is changing and how Pittsburgh can kind of grow to reflect that,” she said.

Sherry-Torres said the residents will be encouraged to explore the importance of place, whether that be Latino identity or the relationship between generations and cultures.

“Part of the residency is really encouraging them to work with local artists, local Pittsburgh artists to create new work to kind of spur the conversation around what does actual diversity mean in the city? What does inclusion really look like for us? And what does equity actually feel like from different perspectives?” she said.

Café Con Leche represents and connects Latinos in southwestern Pennsylvania with community events and marketing. Sherry-Torres says the residents will connect with Pittsburgh artists to reflect on their experience in the city.

According to the application for the residency, the three organizations are seeking artists whose work is influenced by, "African Diaspora; Indigenous people; Urban Latino; Pan-Latino; Youth; Pittsburgh; Latinx/Queer Trans People of Color; Immigration; Black Lives Matter; Artivism; Reproductive Justice."