Meet the team of mujeres maravillosas that make Proyecto Latina happen weekly and monthly, year-round.
Irasema Gonzalez is the Little Village girl that daydreamed a bit too much and grew up to be a multi-genre writer indulging in creative interludes with a hook and yarn. A founding member of Proyecto Latina, a project that includes a reading series and a blog dedicated to featuring and documenting the work of Latinas. A longtime bookworm she will personally mail you a great read from Tianguis.biz the online bookshop that focuses on Latino titles by indie presses and is the exclusive distributor for Momotombo Press. Her poems have appeared in the chapbook, Afternoon Wine: Vicios, Sueños y Confesiones, Ariel XXVIII, and in Between the Heart and the Land: An Anthology of Midwestern Latina Poets by March Abrazo Press. She is a graduate of Columbia College Chicago and currently works at a community arts organization in Chicago’s Pilsen Neighborhood where she pens grants and oversees education programs. Contact: Irasema at firstname.lastname@example.org
Diana Pando is a writer from Chicago and a founder of the Proyecto Latina Reading Series. She writes for the Proyecto Latina online site and has contributed writing to Lawndale Newspaper and been a guest blogger for the Moments In My Head blog. In 2012, her poem Coatlique Rising was selected to be part of the Rites of Passage anthology published by Mujeres de Maiz in California and was a finalist for the Gwendolyn Brooks Poetry Competition. In 2010 her ten-minute play Thirst was presented at Teatro Luna’s 10X10 play festival. Her poem Stanislao In Sepia was also featured in the Ariel XXVIII journal. Currently she is part of the Conjure Woman and Con Tinta literary advisory boards. In the past, she has served as the Managing Director of Teatro Vista and has been a contributor and co-producer of the Proyecto Latina Radio show at Radio Arte. Diana’s kryptonite includes: Writing,military history, coffee, and cumbias. Contact: Diana@proyectolatina.org or follow her on Twitter @dianapando
Coya Paz is a poet, director, and lip gloss connoisseur who was raised in Peru, Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, and Brazil before moving permanently to the United States in 1987. Coya is a proud co-founder of Proyecto Latina and the director in residence for the Poetry Performance Incubator at the Guild Complex. She cofounded Teatro Luna in 2000, and served as co-Artistic Director until 2009. Recent projects include: Nation of Cowards, a multi-sited performance piece about interracial dialogue; Tour Guides; and Machos. Coya teaches in The Theater School at DePaul University, and is finishing a PhD in Performance Studies at Northwestern University, where she also holds her MA. Above all, she believes in the power of performance and poetry to build community towards social change. For a full manifesto, visit her on the web at www.coyapaz.com.
Thelma Uranga is a Chicago-based photographer and self described Do-It-Yourself enthusiast. Thelma is the co-founder of El Stitch y Bitch—a community of 20+ year-old crafters (knit, crochet & craft in all forms) that meets regularly in the Pilsen, Bridgeport and Little Village neighborhoods of Chicago to build community through the tradition of craft. In 2010, she conceptualized a Dia de los Muertos all knit and crocheted altar installation that was part of the annual Dia de los Muertos exhibition at the National Museum of Mexican Art. Most recently the installation, which features over 20 crafters, was part of the 2011 Dia de los Muertos exhibition at the Indianapolis Art Center. She is currently a teaching artist at Pros Arts Studio. Thelma has a BA in Studio Art/Photography from Illinois State University. Her past photography work has explored themes of cultural identity, feminism, contemporary American society and portraiture. Thelma’s blissful obsessions include thrift stores, craft beer and baking pies.
Paloma Martinez-Cruz, Ph.D. She received her B.A. in Latin American Literature and Chicano Studies from the University of California at U.C. Berkeley and her Ph.D. in Latin American Literature from Columbia University in the City of New York. Martinez-Cruz’ book entitled Women and Knowledge in Mesoamerica: From East L.A. to Anahuac (University of Arizona Press, 2011) argues that healing traditions among Mesoamerican women constitute a hemispheric intellectual lineage that thrives despite the legacy of colonization. Martinez-Cruz’ creative and scholarly writings have been featured in PALABRA, Nerter (Canary Islands), Performing the US Latin@ Borderlands, Voces and Ariel Journal. Her performances, “Chata Makes a Weekend Plan,” and “Sexy Tequila Shooter Girl” deal with the conflation of Post-Latina womanhood and terrorism as well as the objectification of Latina women in the marketplace. Her book chapter (with Liza Ann Acosta) on Teatro Luna’s play Machos will be published in Performing Latin@ Borderlands by the Indiana University Press in 2012. She is the frontwoman and bass player for Tijuana Jai Alai, a three-person band with ska and post-punk influences.
The Chisme Box is a regular at our monthly readings and she loves to interact with everyone. She loves the buzz of a crowded room and has the bad habit of eavesdropping on everyone, but rest assured she can keep a secret. Despite her name she prefers funny confessionals to mean-spirited gossip and is unapologetic about spitting out deposits that don’t sit well with her. She’s proud to be made from 100% upcycled/recycled materials, but thinks she’s overdue for a make-over.