Bobby Marines says wants his art to be more than a conduit for expression. He wants it to be a catalyst for conversation.
With his new online discussion series, he has found both.
His web series “Voces y Visiones” ("Voices and Visions") uses art as a jumping-off point to explore ideas and issues Latinx and Chicanx people in the community face.
New episodes are recorded live on Zoom the second Wednesday of the month and are uploaded for later viewing on YouTube.
This Wednesday's episode will explore the COVID-19 vaccine — where it’s available, how to get it, and its risks and benefits. Dr. Medina-Inojosa and Dr. Laura Suarez Pardo, both of Mayo Clinic, will be Marines’ guests.
To help continue to generate some interest for the project, he recorded a promo Friday from his kitchen.
With the signal from Miguel Valdez, Marines went from standing still in his kitchen to hopping up and down and clapping his hands with excitement.
Valdez was in Marines’ kitchen shooting a promo for the show.
“You gotta bring the energy,” Marines said.
Behind him hung a mixed-media portrait of his brother.
“We’re using something very personal,” Marines said. “We’re using artwork as a jumping-off point.”
Marines had the idea for the show when he led a virtual studio tour Soo Visual Arts Center in Minneapolis. At a loss for what he wanted to do, he invited his friend Lael Martinez to join the “tour.” The two talked about Marines’ work, then delved into other topics, such as trauma, PTSD, recovery and coping.
“The feedback was unanimous,” Marines said. “Everybody was telling me, you’ve got to do a show.”
The first episode revisited those topics. The show also provided contact information for mental health organizations and resources for people struggling with PTSD and trauma. Marines said the topic is relevant but also difficult to talk about in Latinx culture.
“Our community is hardened,” he said. “We’re very hardened emotionally.”
Opening up hasn’t always been easy for Marines, he said. Now it comes naturally. Exploring that through his art was always a goal. Creating the series feels like a natural evolution to the process, he said.
“It feels effortless,” he said. “It doesn’t feel crazy, it doesn’t feel forced.”
Seeing a member of the community talk openly about their own experience might encourage others to seek resources they need, or also open up and find an outlet for expression, Marines added.
Valdez, a founder of Alliance of Chicanos, Hispano, Latino Americans in Rochester, provided a physical agency for Marines to receive a Southeastern Minnesota Arts Council grant to fund the first half-dozen episodes.
Valdez also works in Mayo Clinic’s Center for Health Equity and Community Engagement Research. Part of his mission is to reach out to communities like the area Latinx and Chicanx to address health care obstacles they face.
“Voces y Visiones” could provide lessons in what works and doesn’t work in reaching those communities. Valdez and Marines will publish a paper on their findings and experience at the end of the grant cycle.
“My role is to help him with resources either in the (Mayo) institution or the community,” Valdez said. “Plus, I like his art.”
The two have been friends for about 11 years, they said.
Marines said he already has a list of ideas for the next episodes well beyond the grant cycle. Next month, the show will explore feminism in Latinx culture. He plans to step away entirely for the episode and hand the host chair to Celeste Martinez to explore the issues with her guests through her own artwork.
At a time when people are suffering Zoom fatigue, Marines and Valdez said they’ve already had a positive response from the area Latin and Hispanic communities. Marines said it’s easy to get excited for the show even at the drop of a cue for a promotional video.
“That’s the differentiating factor when everybody’s using Zoom,” he said. “It boils down to story, mission, authenticity and approach.”