The wellbeing of youth and artists both play an important role in the prosperity of a nation. But how does living in a foreign country affect immigrant youth and artists who try to establish themselves?
These pertinent issues were the main focus of discussions between the South African Chamber of Commerce in the USA (SACCUSA) and the Consul General of Mexico to Atlanta. President of SACCUSA, Neil Diamond, says the Mexican community has done remarkably well with the promotion of their artists in America and South Africans could learn from them.
“There are many South African artists trying to establish themselves in foreign markets and we are trying to find a solution to the challenges they face. It is high on our agenda to promote cultural diplomacy between the countries,” Diamond explained. Consul General Javier Díaz de León recently held ann art exhibition themed “Immigrant’s Journey” at the
Consulate of Mexico in Atlanta. It showcased the work of Sophia Sobrino, a youth artist. Diamond, who attended the exhibition, said many of the art pieces reflected the struggles Mexican youth face when they live in America. With both parents from Mexico, they often speak Spanish at home with English as their second language.
“They are constantly being reminded that they are different and find it hard to adapt,” he said.
In a poignant portrait, Sobrino expressed this reality by portraying a young girl looking in a mirror with her tongue sticking out, of which half was the Mexican flag and other half the American flag.
“It was like she was lost no matter where she was,” Diamond explained.
Many South Africans struggle with the same challenges while settling in the USA. Sobrino shared with Saffa Mag that she entered the competition when she was in the last few weeks of high school and busy completing her IB Program.
“I decided I wanted to put my own interpretation on the prompt by depicting my own experience with language barriers and feeling lost within my two cultures. I felt nervous and anxious during the process because it was such a personal subject matter and I wanted to do it justice. At the end of the competition, however, I was proud to be contributing to such an important perspective.”
Sobrino won a $1,500 scholarship and her piece was displayed at the Museum of Contemporary Art of Georgia. A proud moment as she explains: “I felt incredibly connected to my heritage and to the Hispanic community in my area. I think that participating in this competition heavily contributed to feeling closer to my roots, and it was incredibly liberating to finally express my emotions.”
SACCUSA is currently exploring ways to offer South African artists the opportunity to market their work in the USA.