Celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month (2021)

Lys Santamaria

Contemporary Beadwork Artist, Lys Santamaria, is best known for her labor-intensive portraits that transform thousands of tiny beads into expressive and colorful portraits and jewelry. Santamaria believes that artwork can heal the artist, the viewer, and the world. Her work is focused on shedding light on people, events, and experiences that are often underrepresented in popular culture. Her mission is to use her hands to create beauty, tell a story, connect with others and create more joy and happiness in our world.

Santamaria’s work was recently featured on Good Morning America, a national LegalZoom commercial, and published in Austin Monthly magazine. Her work has been shown at the Austin Bergstrom International Airport and is part of the permanent collection at the Mexic-Arte Museum.    

Born in Colombia and raised in Canada/USA, she now lives and works from her home studio in Austin, Texas. 

Lys says “being Latina is something I am very proud of.  However, it hasn't always been that way. Growing up in a very rural town in the middle of Nebraska where there were constantly negative messages about my Latinidad, I had a hard time accepting myself.  Now, I love myself.  I honor my family and my ancestors - I am always in gratitude for their hard work, love, and perseverance so that I can be who I am and live an amazing life today.”

Shown below is some of Santamaria’s artwork. Photo credit(s): Lys Santamaria

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Ligiah Villalobos

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Photo credit: Ligiah Villalobos

Ligiah Villalobos is a Latina writer and producer who has worked on many films and shows throughout her career. Most notably, she was the head writer of the Sun Dance film, Under the Same Moon. 

Today, Ligah celebrates Hispanic Heritage Month by highlighting "something or someone who/that represents the best of us." She explains, "One year I did Dreamers, last year I did essential workers, this year I'm focusing on design. It gives me a chance to show my pride in who I am and hopefully get others to see us and what we represent in a different light." 

She says, "I love that we have a month to celebrate our heritage. But I hate that we are still calling it, Hispanic Heritage Month. So I'm using LatinX Heritage Month instead. We are not Hispanic. We are Latinos, Latinas, LatinX, so why are we still using old and dated terminology in 2021? 

"I got lucky that my grey hair didn't really start coming in until 2 years ago, and if you knew how old I am, you would be shocked that it took that long. So I had a decision to make. Do I start coloring my hair, or do I keep it natural? For me, the right decision was to keep it natural. Too often, we allow others to define what beauty, or what beauty is. But why can't grey hair be beautiful? Why can't aging be beautiful? The answer is, they CAN and ARE beautiful. 

I love wearing make-up. But during COVID, I rarely did because here in California we had a pretty strict lockdown, so we weren't going out that much. Also, make-up became complicated with masks. So I learned to embrace not wearing make-up. I think COVID did that for a lot of women. We started to embrace comfortable clothing instead of skinny jeans. We started to embrace flat shoes instead of high heel shoes. We've started to embrace our reading glasses and our wrinkles a little more. And we have started to ask ourselves, 'Why have we been uncomfortable for so damn long?!' 

Now that we are going out a little more and things are getting back to normal, my hope is that we as women continue to transition to more realistic expectations of what beauty is. Do what feels right to you. Sometimes that might mean, skinny jeans, high heel shoes and full make-up on. But sometimes that might mean, cute sweatpants, hair in a ponytail, and just moisturizer on your face. Let's redefine what beauty is for ourselves.”