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Blaxicans of L.A.: popular Instagram photos, stories become gallery exhibit

The project highlights the Blaxican community of Los Angeles, and celebrates the merging of cultures and identities

Compton Herald | Duality: Blaxicans of L.A.

Blaxicans of L.A. project leaps off Instagram and onto the streets of Los Angeles; gallery exhibit will raise awareness of issues facing Blaxican community

LOS ANGELES (MNS) — Since its founding in 1781 by a group of predominantly Afro-Mexican settlers, the story of Los Angeles has been a city with multiracial and multilingual roots. Today, L.A. has evolved into one of the world’s largest and most diverse metropolises, but still boasts a large concentration of people who identify as “Black” and “Brown.”

Compton Herald | Walter Thompson-Hernandez

“…it’s the story of how Blaxicans experience society in Los Angeles” – Walter Thompson-Hernández. Photo: usc.edu

Walter Thompson-Hernández grew up in Los Angeles. He identifies as Blaxican — his mother is Mexican, and his father is Black. He began his Blaxicans of L.A. project as an Instagram photo series in 2015. The account features photos and stories of bi-racial people who live in L.A. As of December, 2017,  blaxicansofla has more than 9,000 followers.

“The account is called Blaxicans of L.A. because that’s what it’s about, it’s the story of how Blaxicans experience society in Los Angeles,” Thompson-Hernández said.

The goal of the project was to highlight the Blaxican community of Los Angeles, and celebrate the merging of cultures and identities. The Blaxicans of L. A. project is now a centerpiece of Thompson-Hernández’ work as a researcher at the University of Southern California.

A gallery exhibit, “Duality: Blaxicans of L.A.,” will bring Thompson-Hernández’ photos and stories off the Internet and into the Avenue 50 Studio, an art venue in the Highland Park neighborhood of Northeast Los Angeles.

“Duality: Blaxicans of L.A.,” a poignant slice of Los Angeles’ evolving multi-ethnic history will be on exhibit Feb. 13 (opening night) through March 5, 2016, from 7-11 p.m. at Avenue 50 Main Gallery, 131 N. Avenue 50, Highland Park, Calif [MAP]. The exhibit is curated by Los Angeles-based artist and educator Nathalie Sánchez.

Using a multi-modal storytelling approach, the Blaxicans of L.A. project by Thompson-Hernández ultimately builds from Los Angeles’ genesis story and explores contemporary questions of race, ethnicity, and identity as they unfold in Los Angeles and the U.S.

Compton Herald | Blaxicans of L.A.

The Blaxicans of L.A. project began as an Instagram photo series in 2015.

“But while this project is very much a story about L.A., the photos, and anecdotes that have emerged reveal larger trends that are reflective of the trajectory of U.S. race relations,” says Thompson-Hernández. “As each day passes, the U.S. is becoming increasingly multiracial, multilingual, and multi-ethnic, but African-Americans and Latinos continue to be the victims of state-sanctioned violence, mass incarceration, mass deportation, and searing educational and health disparities.”

Thompson-Hernández has hopes a project of this kind can both create stronger links between African-Americans and Latinos and raise critical awareness for the pressing inequities faced by both groups who continue to live, work, and love together in spite of these challenges.

Opening night reception: Saturday, Feb. 13, 2016, 7-11 p.m. Exhibit continues through March 5, 2016. For more information, call (323) 258-1435 or visit the Avenue 50 website.

The Avenue 50 Studio is sponsored in part by the Historic Highland Park Neighborhood Council, the City of Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs, the Los Angeles County Arts Commission, and the Bloomberg Philanthropies.

About the Artist:

Walter Thompson-Hernández is a Los Angeles-based writer, photographer, and researcher. He was born and raised in Los Angeles and is a recent graduate of the Stanford University Latin American Studies Master’s program. He is currently a researcher at the University of Southern California (USC), Center for the Study of Immigrant Integration (CSII), and Program for Environmental and Regional Equity (PERE). Outside of his work at USC, Thompson-Hernández explores issues related to immigration, race, Afro-Latinos, and sports in the U.S., Latin America, and Europe. His writing and research have been featured on CNN, BBC, by the Los Angeles Times, BuzzFeed, Remezcla, the Compton Herald, and UNIVISION, among others. His latest academic project will be featured in a forthcoming book titled, “Afro-Latinos in Movement: Critical Approaches to Blackness and Transnationalism in the Americas.”

Compton Herald is a digital news publication providing clear, fair and current news, information and commentary about Compton, the Los Angeles metropolitan area, Los Angeles County, California, and the world.


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