Your typical visitor to the U.S. art museum is more often than not affluent, white, and academically well-educated. As a Latina interested in and inspired by art, Verónica Betancourt often visits encyclopedic art museums – these are museums that claim a comprehensive representation of art history. Her experiences in these spaces are often rife with feelings of alienation and questions of her acceptance as a Latina in the museum’s narrative. Through her dissertation, Betancourt seeks to open these spaces to a more diverse population.
The conversation with Kevin Bilapka Arbelaez in the noisy Cup O’ Joe Clintonville lasted longer than the usual 30-minutes. There was just too much to talk about: his work at St. Vincent Family Center, musical solo projects, and writing with the band didi. We also mulled over issues of alienation in the community and the complexity of identifying as half one thing and half something else… something we both think a lot about.
Virginia Nunes Gutierrez beams at me from behind the counter of Bottoms Up Coffee Co-Op where she is now a budding barista and community advocate. The shop – which opened this past March of 2016 – is the realized product of Virginia and sister, Victoria Calderón Nunes’s, dream to revitalize and empower Franklinton. Proceeds from each cup of coffee combat the infant mortality rate in Columbus, Ohio (which are among the worst in the country), while the building gives start-ups and entrepreneurs space to work and collaborate.