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 email@example.com
Diana Pando is a writer from Chicago who loves telling stories. She recently published her poem Mythology of Flesh and Turquoise Serpents in the Offerings of Flesh Anthology by Mujeres de Maiz (2014 – California). Currently, she is a co-founder of the Chicago Latino Writers Initiative and a founding member of Proyecto Latina. She also teaches her signature writing workshop Puro Cuento and is part of the Con Tinta literary advisory boards.
In 2013 she published Los Domingos in the Cantología Anthology published by Pandora lobo estepario Press. An excerpt of her story Geography of a Mujer Norteada was also published in Rebeldes, a Proyecto Latina Anthology. She also contributes writing to Lawndale Newspaper, Extra Bilingual News, The Gate Newspaper, and Pilsen Portal.
In 2012, her poem Coyolxauhqui Rising was published in Rites of Passage anthology published by Mujeres de Maiz (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 published by Triton College.
In the past, she has served as the Managing Director of Teatro Vista, taught storytelling workshops at Casa Maravilla for senior citizens through the Goodman Theatres GeNarrations initiative, 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.