American Premiere of Ken Carl’s Photography Exhibit: Joy Possible

April 29, 2013 Leave a comment

“In India people with disabilities, who constitute almost four to eight percent of the population are still fighting to get equal access to healthcare, education, employment and inclusion in society. Despite the magnitude of the issue, both awareness of and scientific information on disability issues are lacking.”

Award-winning freelance photographer Ken Carl will be displaying various photographs from a spiritually-altering trip to India where he was sent to capture the essence of the Latika Roy Foundation, a resource center for children and young adults with special needs. Calumet Photographic, 1111 N. Cherry Ave., will host the display from May 9 to June 2, 2013.

20102201_carl_india_00649-EditThrough an opportunity with Momenta, an international journalistic based organization focused on creating unique opportunities for photographers and non-governmental organizations throughout the world, Carl’s goal was to expand his knowledge and horizon, capturing a glimpse of life in a part of the world with which he wasn’t familiar. In the end, Carl obtained much more of this venture.

Regardless of Carl’s years of experience and expertise, the project came with challenges. “After two days I just felt a sense of failure and it was really hard,” said Carl. Going through the initial photographs, Carl didn’t feel as though he was capturing what was necessary. “I thought, ‘I’ve been given this amazing opportunity and I can’t get an image out of it.’”

Latika Roy FoundationWith that, Carl took advantage of the days he had left. Along with integrating himself even more at the foundation, he asked for permission from the executive director of Latika Roy Jo McGowan to visit students at home and photograph them along with their families.

During his visits, Carl was able to capture nothing short of amazingly true images that exhibited the struggles and realities of families with their special needs children.

“These children have disabilities yet that fact is not a barrier to being a positive light,” said Carl. “The human spirit can never be disabled.”

Two years later, with photographs full of color, emotion and joy, Carl is ready to give people outside of India insight into the school in Dehradun and bring awareness of those with special needs.

“This trip brought and heightened awareness in my photography,” he said. “I want to share the message that joy is possible through sharing, caring and treating each other well.”

Dates of Exhibition: May 9, 2013 – June 2, 2013

Reception: May 9, 2013 from 6:30 p.m. – 9 p.m.

Location: Calumet Photographic Chicago, 1111 North Cherry Ave.

Information on the event can also be found on Facebook

Categories: articles, Events

Bend the Gender

October 8, 2011 Leave a comment

Photo: Abel Arciniega/Tequila Graphics

She walked into the Lollapalooza media compound on a warm August third.  Tall and slender, one could only assume that this woman was a performer; someone meant to be on stage. Her hair was long and brown and her skin paler than a lot of the sun-kissed people under the white canvas tents. She had black heels on that hurt; she had the bloody bandages to prove it. Her lips were colored a classic rosy red; her eyes were wide and lined in classic black. Her beige-colored knee length dress complimented her figure.

Teri Gender Bender smiled as she finally got to sit down at the table. With her bottle of water, she kept telling her assistant or public relations representative, or whatever he really was, to find her sun screen to protect her from the Chicago sun. For those of you who live in Chicago during the summer, you know it’s brutal and just plain mean sometimes.

Teri is the lead singer of Le Butcherettes, now a trio originally formed as a duo in Guadalajara, Mexico only a few years ago. Teri, of Mexican descent, moved to Mexico with her mother and brother at 14 when her father died. Born in Denver, Teri’s adolescent life revealed similar experiences to many Latinos in the United States. She explains that not many people around her spoke Spanish, even though she did at home because of her Mexican parents. She was different; strange.

“’We can’t speak a language they can’t understand.’ That’s how I was raised at school,” she said, “learning to be ashamed of myself.”

About half of all Latinos are bilingual, thanks to parents who keep the language alive at home, accounting for the 63 percent of Latinos who were born State side. For Teri, whose parents were both immigrants to the United States, speaking Spanish at home was necessary.

Taking the dramatic experience of losing her father and adding the fact that their mother decided to move them to Guadalajara to be closer to family, Teri found herself in a teenage state of attempting to define who she was. Mexico was no different from Denver, in a sense that she didn’t feel like she belonged very much there either. In fact, she was the gringa, the girl who had a weird accent born State side.

“It was a rude awakening. The poverty everywhere, the rich a block away; just the two extremes,” she explained. “There was a lot of alienation there. People saw me as the gringa. ‘What are you doing here? Go back to the States.’ Or why is your Spanish poor?”

Then began her musical exploration, which, she explained thoroughly, she had done as a mode of rebellion. So, firstly, no, the music was not in Spanish. It was sung in English and still is. Secondly, she used her intelligence and philosophical insight to express what she was feeling through her music, focusing on her womanhood but not taking a feminist movement approach. Thirdly, the fact that her music was rough and (what the US would call) garage-band like and punkish called attention to her a little more. At the beginning, it was Teri on guitar and vocals with a female drummer. That was it. The dark underground emo movement that has been alive and well in Mexico was of no interest to Le Butcherettes. In fact, she rebelled against that, too.

“There’s a theme going on; an emo theme that I never related to so that made me want to rebel against it,” she explained moving her hands about. “Some people took it the wrong way because, ‘Oh, how could I not relate to the emo theme?’ That’s how people get started, some people join music just to be like everyone else and then there are artists that join music to do something different.  I want to keep changing.”

Teri noticed that her gender said a lot about her without even opening her mouth. The Mexican culture, one that caters more to men than women, was not welcoming to her ways and she felt it. At a young age she decided that whether you were a man or a woman would not be a deciding factor in her judgment of a person. She plays the role of a stereotypical woman because that’s what she was taught to do; but on stage, it all changed for her. Performing with the head of a pig (to represent male chauvinism and drug lords in Mexico) she declared the idea of individuality, independence and a rebellion against the societal standards.

“I consider myself a self-proclaimed feminist but not in the same way that other people would think of a feminist. I’m not a man-hater. To me, being a feminist is living your own life for yourself, be it a man or a woman or whatever you are…” she explained.

With the voice of a strong woman, she’s been compared to Karen O of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs and has played with them as well as Iggy and the Stooges. From Mexico to Barcelona, Teri, who gave herself the name Gender Bender (formerly Suarez), has displayed a rambunctious and un-ladylike attitude while strumming her guitar with her additional band mates, now both male.

“I realized that ‘Gender Bender’ for me meant that I’m not going to care whether you’re a man or a woman because it’s stupid to think of or keep labeling people by sexes,” she said.

It was a show in Guadalajara where Le Butcherettes were first seen by a strong individual in the mainstream music industry. Teri knew that Omar Rodriguez-Lopez was in the audience and she tried not to freak out. Beginning the show with the lights off, Teri kept telling herself and her drummer to play the show like they would any other night.

“[Before the show] I was like, ‘Don’t stress, he’s here’ and there was something in my gut that was telling me, ‘This guy is special,’” she remembered. “And I wasn’t just thinking about my band, but this guy had the ability to be a good friend. He had a different view on things that many people in that crowd were reserved and small-thinking.”

Rodriguez-Lopez expanded her knowledge and idea of music, if nothing else. She knew that she would learn a lot from working with him and although she hadn’t heard his music, she’d heard of his band The Mars Volta.

“His philosophy is essence is more than music. He gave me examples like Siouxsie and the Banshees,” said Teri. “Like the drums are very minimal but Siouxsie’s voice just overcame it all. He believed in [our music] and not a lot of people did.”

After they went to lunch the day after the show, Rodriguez-Lopez ultimately decided to produce Le Butcherettes’ album, Sin, Sin, Sin, where he played the bass on all 13 tracks.

The performance at Lollapalooza hailed praise from audience members who screamed, “Te queremos!” We love you! In between each song, Teri spoke to the crowd in Spanish, explaining that making music in Spanish is something that she’s now exploring to expand on the audience and those who listen to her music. If anything, Teri has learned to accept and embrace her differences.

“Now I’m so proud of myself. Living in Mexico has made me really proud to be a Mexican, actually challenging myself as an artist,” she said.

In the hot sun, Teri screamed into the microphone, did somersaults, threw her black heels she so painfully wore into the crowd and body surfed, being as rowdy, yet as classically talented as any female performer. She strummed hard, yet never missed a note.

The future of Le Butcherettes is bright and ever changing. Music, for Teri, is about self-expression and the ability to communicate a message to her audience. In the future, Teri is willing to explore the different mediums of making music, whether it’s her on her own or bringing in a 10-piece band.

“It might just be me playing a bass drum and singing with my two guys doing yoga in the background,” she said. “You never know.”

Auction: Burton History Trees: NHL Blackhawks Tree

October 4, 2011 2 comments

Hello everyone,

For those of you who don’t know, I hosted a diabetes fundraiser last Saturday night and this beautiful piece of artwork came in as an auction item. We’ve opened up this last prize to everyone who couldn’t make it to the event.

We’re going to start the bidding at $60. This piece is worth $135.

If you are interested in bidding, please fill out the form below and you will be notified who the highest bidder is. Depending on the feedback, we’ll do up to three (3) rounds. To see more information about the Burton History Tree, please visit the company website.

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If you wish to simply donate to the Diabetes Walk, please visit the donation page.

Thank you very much,

Christina E. Rodriguez

Categories: Art

Latinos hit 50 million but still lack in the workplace

September 28, 2011 Leave a comment

In case you missed it, the United States is swarming with Latinos. Everywhere you look—Los Angeles, Chicago, San Francisco, Boston, Atlanta—Latinos are there. According to the 2010 U.S. Census Latinos account for approximately 50.5 million people. However, even though Latinos have made their impact on the population, they are still less likely to hold a position in managerial, professional or related occupations as compared to Whites or Asians, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.

When Martin Castro, 48, was applying for college, he went to his high school counselor for help but instead the teenager was told that he should work in the steel mills like his father and grandfather. Although, this was a common decision being made by young Latinos at the time, Castro took the step toward education.

He explains that he learned the application process on his own because his parents, Mexican immigrants, couldn’t help him. Castro went on to finish his law degree and years later chose to co-found New Futuro, a new bilingual initiative to get Latino students into college and beyond. Although Castro was told not to attempt a college degree, Latino students today find themselves in a bind when it comes to either investing in their futures or helping their family monetarily; choosing between college and a job.

“It’s important for our community to understand the importance of education in the long-term,” he says. “It’s a difference between making $100 a week or $100,000 a year. And I think we have to communicate that there’s a long-term investment that we have to make in ourselves.”

The growth of the Latino population is phenomenal and exponential; just ask any marketer or businessman. With over a trillion dollars in spending power and a steep incline of Latino college enrollment (a 24 percent growth from 2009-2010), Latinos are undoubtedly desired clients but the issue at hand is that many companies attempting to cater to the market just don’t know how, almost ignoring Latinos and performing at the bare minimum for a large segment of the population.

“I think a lot of the general market sees the potential but they don’t know how to tap into that market,” says Castro. “We’re a very diverse community… We’re a very complex community and most folks outside of the community don’t understand that.”

There are programs and organizations to help Latino advancement.  In addition to New Futuro, Latinos In Social Media (LATISM) is a nation-wide non-profit that unites those professional, tech-savvy, college-educated Latinos and has given an outlet to voice opinions and talk about issues affecting Latinos.

Made up of many professionals in the communication world, LATISM has become a credible site where non-Latinos have turned to learn about the community.  The organization was recognized by the White House for its work and members were asked to attend sessions to help resolve Latino issues.

“Having a strong sense of their place in this country and within their own culture, [young Latinos] have found the inner strength to own their voices: they have no qualms about speaking their mind on the issues that affect our community,” says Elianne Ramos, vice chair of communications and public relations for Latinos In Social Media. “As a matter of fact, I would not be surprised if the high affinity and strong representation of young Latinos in the social media arena may partially be a consequence of their desire to have their voices heard.”

Elma Placeres Dieppa, experienced marketing consultant, says that in order to be noticed and understood, the Latino community has to demand better. Latinos, she says, have to realize the importance that they hold and act accordingly, not just as spenders but as vital resources in the workforce, something that Castro also agrees with.

“Latinos in the workforce are extremely important from a number of different perspectives. Just from the sheer volume of the number of Latinos out there now and the growing number of us, it’s important for any workforce to integrate Latinos into it,” says Castro.

Hiring those who know the Latino community is vital, especially if employers wish to tap into the Latino market. Those who know the community are typically those who are personally involved.

“There are those companies who realize that they want to understand the market, they want to be able to sell to the market, they want to be able to reflect the market; it’s incumbent on them to find Latinos who understand those issues and to be able to build those relationships with the community,” says Castro. “Not that non-Latinos can’t build those relationships, but they can be done more effectively with better understanding and knowledge by folks who are part of and intimately familiar with their community.”

The Up Coming

June 20, 2011 Leave a comment

Hey everyone!

Thanks for stopping by. Just want to let you in on a few things that have been happening and will start soon.

My girls, Lori Diaz and Wendy Mateo from Dominizuelan recently performed for the TBS Just For Laughs Festival this past weekend. This is the second time that they’ve been a part of this festival and they do an awesome job at it! Congratulations!

This week also starts the Colombian Music Festival. If you haven’t checked out the awesome acts coming out, please do. There are a lot of free shows and amazing artists coming to Chicago just for you and you don’t have to be Latino to enjoy them. The shows will take place all over Chicago including Millennium Park, the Old Town School of Folk Music, the Shrine and at Las Tablas restaurant, located on Lincoln Ave. Check out the website to preview the music and to see where everyone is performing or you can also follow on Twitter. It’s going to be a lot of fun.

July starts up RatioNation’s acts again, starting with Carla Morrison at the Dark Room on July 1st. Tickets are on sale now, or just follow RatioNation on Twitter or on Facebook to try and win some tickets. This show is going to be awesome just because Carla Morrison is awesome. She’s gained a lot of attention out in Los Angeles and is now performing in Chicago. Check out the Facebook Event or take a look at for more information about the show. She’s coming straight from Tecate, Mexico and the event will be sponsored by Heineken.

There’s always a bunch of events listed on the Arte y Vida Chicago website. So if you’re bored and need something to do, please take a look. For up to the minute updates and schedule changes check us out on Facebook and Twitter as well. There are some amazing events coming up for your cultural aficionados. If you find us out at different events, please be sure to stop by and say hello. Tell us what you like most about the website and/or newsletter and let us know what you’re interested in so we can be sure to add it on to our list of cool events in the future. It’s summer time in the Chi, which means there’s a lot of cool and free stuff to do.

For those of you in a giving mood, Choose To Shine, a nonprofit who helps support other nonprofits will be hosting a fundraiser for Christopher House on June 23 from 7-10 p.m. at Mystic Celt. It’s $35 in advance or $40 at the door and includes drinks and food. Upon arrival you get to choose which of the nonprofits (there are four supported in one night) deserves your money. Check out the event on Facebook to see if it’s of interest to you and who you’d like to give a few bucks to. Don’t forget to follow Christopher House on Twitter and Like us on Facebook. Your support goes out to low-income children and families all around Chicago.