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The opening night of the Women's Mobile Museum at the Philadelphia Photo Arts Center on Jan. 24, 2019. The featured image was created by Zanele Muholi, a South African artist and activist.
The opening night of the Women's Mobile Museum at the Philadelphia Photo Arts Center on Jan. 24, 2019. The featured image was created by Zanele Muholi, a South African artist and activist.

Meet the two Latina artists featured in the Women’s Mobile Museum

Through the residency program and gallery, the Women’s Mobile Museum explored representation and accessibility in art.

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The Women’s Mobile Museum (WMM), a traveling museum gallery, explores the purpose of art and who art is for. The work showcased in the museum is the culmination of an apprenticeship and residency program through the Philadelphia Photo Arts Center (PPAC), featuring 10 women of various ages, ethnicities, races, and socioeconomic backgrounds who are self-taught artists or unknown in the art world.

The program started in Feb. 2018 and the gallery has been touring Philadelphia since Sept. 2018;  the WMM was on display at the Juniata Park Boys & Girls Club, the Dixon House in Point Breeze, the PPAC and the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts (PAFA).

Through the program, two Latina artists were able to develop their photography skills. They shared their stories and the inspiration behind their work.

Iris Maldonado

Maldonado is originally from Farjardo, Puerto Rico. Aside from having her Associate’s Degree in Human Services, she is also a poet, photographer, and Reiki practitioner.

Maldonado’s first exposure to photography was through an elective class in high school. She enjoyed the process of developing film in the darkroom; through this experience, her love of photography formed.

A self-portrait by Iris Maldonado

Now, Maldonado’s favorite thing about photography is being able to express her feelings and emotions through her images, even to people she has never met before. The goal of her self-portrait series was to work on personal acceptance, loving herself, and learning how to better understand herself. Her work at the PPAC, titled “Earthly,” is different from the work she shared at previous galleries.

“And for me it is really important what I’m doing right now because I can express myself, I can express how I feel, how I think, how I would like to help other people, just with an image,” Maldonado said. “I can talk about my past experience or what I want for the future. Just in an image. I think an image says so much.”

Muffy Ashley Torres

Torres has always been immersed in the arts, whether is was listening to music or viewing murals around the neighborhood with her parents. From a young age, art has helped Torres find her voice and express her emotions. Painting and drawing allowed her to express her feelings when words could not, especially after being diagnosed with a chronic illness, lupus, as a child.

The self-taught artist has always loved photography; prior to the Women’s Mobile Museum, she mainly took pictures of her friends and content for social media.

Torres was born in Philadelphia, but her family has roots in Puerto Rico. The themes of culture and family are both very prominent in her work.

“Family is essential and it’s truly the theme of my whole project with Women’s Mobile Museum and I guess I wouldn't be here without them, so how could I detach them from any of my big projects?,” Torres said.

A self-portrait by Muffy Ashley Torres

Torres’ series is called, “Fundación Fuerte,” or “Strong Foundation,” which pays tribute to her family home. The home was originally destroyed by a fire; in the process of rebuilding, a newly developed housing complex fell onto the home and further destroyed it, ultimately displacing the family.

Originally, she planned to document her family’s emotions; however, she soon realized how much this experience was affecting her. She decided to start taking self-portraits as a way to express her own emotions — specifically grief, loss, and heartbreak.

 
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