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Brenda Torres-Figueroa: Afro-Puerto Rican woman explores racial, gender identity through art in Chicago

Chicago-Brenda Torres-Figueroa is an Afro-Puerto Rican who explores gender and racial identity as a visual and performance artist.

“Performance is an art form that works with identity politics, [is] My way to understand who I am a little more. ” Torres Figueroa, who moved from Puerto Rico to Chicago in 2000 for a master’s degree at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, said.

At the age of 23, he settled in the city’s Hambolt Park district. Torres-Figueroa recalled seeing a large Puerto Rico flag overhead on a Division Street bus heading to the center of the neighborhood.

“Humboldt Park is great. I think it’s beyond the vibrant Puerto Rico neighborhood,” she said.

Torres-Figueroa’s art is based on her life growing up in Puerto Rico. She described Puerto Rico as a mixture of three cultures: Europeans, Tainos-indigenous peoples of the island-and Africans.

“”[It] It’s beautiful to have such an ambiguous racial identity, but at the same time it can play a difficult role in island and social dynamics, “she said.

Torres-Figueroa experienced a challenge for her complexion.

“Colorism is huge in both Puerto Rico and Latin America, and this idea of ​​color-related good and bad binaries,” she said.

As a teenager, one of my dark-skinned grandmothers recommended that I marry a light-skinned man. Torres-Figueroa does not blame his grandmother for his advice.

“It was just a reflection of her experience, and also colonization and also internalization of white supremacism,” she said.

When Torres Figueroa came to Chicago, she faced more challenges associated with her identity. From time to time she said she wasn’t considered Latina even though she spoke her native language.

“When I speak Spanish, I have people. They can’t connect my visible identity with my real identity, so they keep talking to me in English,” Torres- Figueroa said.

It stimulated her passion for visual and performance art. She uses clothes to challenge social cognition.

Torres Figueroa said it was important for black women to take up space.

“As a performance artist, I don’t think people have much choice other than seeing you,” she said. “So the layer of building ideas they have about you-you have to challenge them.”

To follow Brenda Torres-Figuerao on Instagram: @Performatum..

From actors to activists, people share the story of celebrating their heritage, expressing their Latino, Latino, or Hispanic identity, expressing and embracing diverse cultures. Celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month with “Our America: Todos Unidos” on ABC-owned TV streaming app and Hulu..

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