Patricia Hernandez and Diego Torres at MINT Gallery. Photographs by Isadora Pennington.

It all started with a popup art show. Today, Nuestra Creación has evolved into a month-long celebration of Latine culture and art. On display at MINT Gallery through October 15, the exhibition features the work of 23 artists from Atlanta and the East Coast. Created by local Salvadorian artist Patricia Hernandez and Mexican marketing strategist Diego Torres, the annual tradition aims to showcase Latine artists and provide support to programs that are doing good for families in the community. 

One recent Friday night I visited MINT gallery and had a chance to experience the art and speak with Hernandez and Torres. Visitors mingled and milled about. On display through October 15 are the works of 23 Latine artists in mediums that include photography, sculpture, painting, and textiles. 

Back in 2019 when they first launched at Ponce City Market it was only meant to last for a weekend. “I don’t have the privilege of many Americans who are second generation,” said Hernandez. Though now it’s less of an issue, her language barrier and immigration status has at times prevented her from finding steady work. She is also a single mother, and together all of those elements pose significant challenges. “Seeing all the stories and the struggles that I face from time to time, I wanted to create this. Diego heard me and he got inspired. He said he wanted to help.” 

Before Nuestra Creación’s inception Torres was working at a local company that hosted art events and community murals. Hernandez got involved with one of those public art projects and they connected. Lamenting a lack of inclusion for Latine artists in white-dominated art spaces in the city, the two hatched a plan to build their own exhibition. They showcased the work of 30+ artists and raised money for Kids in Need of Defense, a nonprofit organization that provides immigrant children with pro-bono legal support.

In 2020, Nuestra Creación took place in Downtown Atlanta and was presented in collaboration with Latinx event brand La Choloteca. At that show, artists kept all proceeds and they crowdfunded $5000 to support La Choloteca’s mission of creating safe spaces for queer Latine youth through dance parties that are tied to social justice issues. 

Home Can Be A Person by Mallory Meija

This year they are raising money to support El Refugio, a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping those who are detained at the Stewart Detention Center (SDC) in Lumpkin, GA. Along the walls of one of MINT’s front rooms are illustrations and writings. This exhibit, called Breaking Out, showcases works by detained individuals at the SDC and their loved ones. One particularly heartbreaking piece depicts a child being embraced and is accompanied by text that reads “home can be a person.” It was drawn by fourteen year old Mallory Meija whose father was held at SDC before being deported to Honduras. “We want to amplify those voices,” explained Torres.

Another important aspect of Nuestra Creación’s impact is the educational opportunities it provides. Hernandez explained that it’s not only those unfamiliar with Latine artists who learn something, it’s also the families and local Latine community as well. Making a living as an artist is not always perceived as realistic or doable. It is often stigmatized. The concept of a struggling artist is pervasive and can affect aspiring Latine artists who feel unsupported by their loved ones. By showcasing emerging artists alongside respected and established artists, Hernandez and Torres offer a glimpse into the viability of art as a career.

In an increasingly diverse metro like Atlanta there is a clear need to showcase artists that are representative of our communities. From the very start, Hernandez and Torres have been united in their desire to help Latine artists and families in need. Over the past four years they have built Nuestra Creación into a platform that can be used to bring attention to important issues and raise funding for causes and nonprofits. With the help of devoted artists and allies such as Hernandez and Torres, there’s no doubt that we’ll be seeing more from Nuestra Creación in years to come. 

Isadora Pennington is a freelance writer and photographer based in Atlanta. She is the editor of Sketchbook by Rough Draft, a weekly Arts newsletter.