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Championing Spartanburg's Latinx Arts Community - Trustee Spotlight

October 11, 2018 | Features
Araceli Hernández-Laroche, PhD


Why did you decide to become involved with Chapman Cultural Center as a board member?

As an educator, I strongly believe that the arts, humanities and sciences are central and that they all enrich one another. On my campus, USC Upstate, where I am an associate professor of Modern Languages, I love to organize cultural events because some of the most exciting educational opportunities and dialogue happen beyond the walls of a classroom. This is one of the main reasons I was thrilled when I was invited to join the board. I knew I would be learning from leaders who champion the arts.

What are you most passionate about when you think about CCC’s work, mission and impact?

It is an honor and joy to serve as a new Trustee. As a resident of Spartanburg, I am enriched by its mission. We all are. The labor of love it takes to bring the arts to all residents and make them more accessible are key parts of the CCC’s work. The leadership that drives the impact of the CCC is dynamic and pioneering. For instance, the Mayfair Art Studios in Arcadia will open new doors of creative opportunities beyond the downtown area and into more neighborhoods.


What is something you hope to help progress as a trustee for the Spartanburg arts community?

The arts are for everyone and we all need to feel at home in any cultural space. I hope to serve as an effective cultural ambassador of sorts or bridge for the CCC to different audiences that I interact with on a weekly basis. From college students, with all their diverse backgrounds, to community members, such as from la Alianza Hispana of Spartanburg, they all make our city more vibrant and inclusive.

Photo courtesy of Palmetto Luna shot by Antonio Modesto

How do your culture and Latin heritage influence your experiences in the arts?

I was born in Guadalajara, Mexico. For me, Mexico has always been a country of captivating colors, traditions and inspiring artists such as Frida Kahlo and José Clemente Orozco; they engaged their art to transform the world. It was exciting growing up in Southern California with a vibrant Chicano Art culture and history. I also lived, studied and taught in France, Spain, and Italy. By traveling and living in these beautiful countries, I have been exposed to amazing cultural, literary, historical, culinary and artistic traditions. My French in-laws, who live in Paris, are artists too and I love learning from their art and sensibilities.


How would you describe Spartanburg’s Latinx arts community?

The Latinx artistic community has tons to offer and especially to our youth who gain from inspiring mentors. Ana Cordoba’s art uplifts me. (I met Ana in an art class when I interpreted in French for Swiss artists visiting USC Upstate and the CCC Gallery). I am a big fan of Antonio Modesto’s trailblazing work. Ivan Segura and his visionary work with the Palmetto Luna Arts community throughout South Carolina are all fueling fascinating exchanges amongst activists, teachers, scholars, musicians, poets, writers, neighbors, and community leaders. May we discover more Latinx artists and learn from multiples perspectives.  


Do you have any advice for Latinx community members who want to get involved at CCC?

Please make time to experience the many events organized by the CCC. You will meet artists who will inspire you and your participation will enrich the vibrancy of the cultural district. Art disrupts and that makes it more palpable and relevant. Explore, engage and share your experience and talents.

Dr. Araceli Hernández-Laroche is an assistant professor of modern languages and the assistant chair of the Department of Language, Literature and Composition at the University of South Carolina Upstate. She has a BA from UCLA and MA & Ph.D. from the University of California Berkeley. She is the Past-President of the South Carolina Chapter of the American Association of Teachers of French. A native of Mexico, she has lived, researched and taught in several countries and speaks four languages. She serves on the Hispanic Alliance Leadership/Steering Committee of Spartanburg, on the Inclusion Council for Spartanburg Area Chamber of Commerce, the LGBT Fund committee, and on the boards of The Hub City Writers Project and the Chapman Cultural Center.

Learn more about CCC's mission and the work we are doing to champion the arts in Spartanburg County!

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