How do young Latin American women adapt to living in the UK?

A photographic exhibition in response to the growing number of Latin American women in London — and the challenges they face — is coming to Nottingham’s The New Art Exchange for six weeks from Friday 8 March.

The exhibition is a part of the Women and Independence in Latin America project being run by Professor Catherine Davies at The University of Nottingham and explores issues of national and gender identities, freedom and independence.

The exhibition — Empowerment through Art: Photography and Latin American Migrant Girls in London — is the result of the University’s collaboration with the Arts and Humanities Research Council and the Latin American Women’s Rights Service (LAWRS). LAWRS is a London based organisation which supports Latin American women in the UK by offering advice, information and tools to enable them to adapt and grow.

Empowerment through Art is a documentary photographic exhibition developed by British-Mexican photographer Pablo Allison, whose photography often explores the concept of boundaries. The exhibition responds to London’s often overlooked Latin American Community and to the recent campaign to officially recognise Latin Americans as a distinctive ethnic group.

Allison supported 11 Latin American women on the cusp of youth and adulthood in developing their photography skills. The exhibition includes the participant’s photographs representing their experiences of living in London.

A snapshot of young, female Latin Americans

Dr Maria Thomas is a postdoctoral research fellow at the University and works on the Women and Independence in Latin America project, including this exhibition. She said: “The exhibition is exciting because it gives us a snapshot of how young, female Latin Americans see their adopted country at a time the UK Latin American community is growing steadily.

“In 2008 there were around 186,500 Latin Americans living in the UK and the numbers are rising. Although the community is now a large, dynamic and important presence in London, its experiences are often overlooked. As representatives of this community, these girls appear in the photographs as empowered young women.”

Empowered young women

Carolina Gottardo, director of LAWRS, said: “When I first saw the photographs of the girls, the first thing that came to my mind was that these were empowered young women. They are not victims; these are young women who can stand with their heads held high, looking toward the future.

“They are young women with ideals and potential, even though their situation as young, Latin American migrants in an unfamiliar country with little knowledge of the language and the customs is not easy; even when they have to face up to stereotypes about young women immigrants from an ethnic minority.”

Empowerment through Art: Photography and Latin American Migrant Girls in London is at The New Art Exchange from Friday 8 March until Saturday 20 April.

The exhibition is being supported by the Arts and Humanities Research Council, the Latin American Women’s Rights Service, the School of Cultures, Languages and Area Studies and the Centre for Advanced Studies at The University of Nottingham and the Horizon Hub.


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