Know Your Neighbor: Rosie Saldaña, Tieton Arts and Humanities Artistic Director | Explore Yakima

Read in Spanish.Artist Rosie Saldaña connects people through her work as artistic director at Tieton Arts and Humanities.

Saldaña’s great-grandparents immigrated to the United States from Mexico seeking opportunities for their families.

After graduating from East Valley High School, Saldaña received a BA in Visual Arts in 2017 from Heritage University.

Saldaña works in acrylics, oils and watercolors, and her work has been shown in galleries throughout Washington, including Seattle. She is proud of her own artwork and wants to create a space and opportunity for other Latino artists to share their art.

Local artists Rosie Saldaña, left, and Cindy Lemus pose next to their murals on Wednesday, Sept. 1, 2021, behind the Dollar Stretcher, 501 W. Lincoln Ave. in Yakima, Washington.

At Tieton Arts and Humanities, Saldaña advises young artists to be proud of being bilingual and to take advantage of that ability.

Here’s a Q&A with Saldaña:

What are your roots?

I was born in Yakima, raised in Moxey and went to school in the East Valley. My father was born in Washington and my mother was born in California. My great-grandparents were of Mexican descent and came to this country seeking opportunities for their families.

Tell us about your passion.

I am a fine artist and have shown my work in various galleries around Washington including Seattle. I like to paint with acrylic, oil and watercolor. I completed my BA in Visual Arts from Heritage University in 2017 and after graduation I started working at an art agency. I currently work at Tieton Arts and Humanities. Art has been in my life for as long as I can remember. I am fortunate to work at a place where I am passionate about everything around me.

What accomplishments are you most proud of?

I feel proud not only of my work as an artist, but also of providing a space to showcase the talent of local artists through Tieton Arts and Humanities. Latin American artists do not have many places to exhibit their work, nor do they have the means for people to get to know them. My work allows me to expose Hispanic art to our community and to other cultures that are drawn to the creativity of our people.

What are the barriers that Latin artists face?

It is hard to find galleries that are willing to be open to cultural diversity. Sometimes I feel uncomfortable because people don’t even give us a chance to get to know your work, they just ask you, “What are you doing here? This is not for you, this is an art gallery.

I understand that artists can feel rejected and think that the art world will close its doors to us; however, the Yakima Valley has places to showcase Latino art and culture. Personally, I have found galleries to exhibit my work and I want to invite Latino artists not to give up.

Tell us about your work at Tieton Arts and Humanities.

Working in this organization allowed me to confirm that Latin American and indigenous artists have opportunities for our work to be appreciated. We have several events a year specifically dedicated to showcasing Spanish culture. My job gives me the opportunity to teach Latino artists how to enter the art world. I am honored to create support networks between local and Spanish-speaking artists by submitting their applications and reviewing their resumes so they can find new work opportunities.

What do you think about the importance and respect for language(s)?

Knowing English is a great advantage for me not only personally but also to help people who don’t know English. I help my community by translating or teaching how processes work to access scholarships. On the other hand, the fact that I didn’t grow up speaking Spanish was a big challenge and a barrier that separated me from my culture and roots.

Encourage your children to keep the Spanish language, continue to practice it at home, because speaking, writing and reading Spanish and English will give them twice as many opportunities when it comes time to look for a job.

In order for an artist to grow and share their art with the largest possible audience, in addition to talent and creativity, they must possess skills that allow them to develop and communicate in any space while feeling confident, and this can only be achieved through education.

What is your advice to young artists?

Be proud of being bilingual as this will always be an advantage. You should never be ashamed of your native language and culture and remember that they are your roots and we should embrace and honor them. Help people who don’t know how to speak Spanish because there are many people who want to learn it. Be empathetic and respectful of people who are interested in learning other languages.

Do you find challenges as a woman in the art world?

I feel very honored to represent a group of women artists, especially Latina women artists and artists of color. We need to be seen and appreciated and break stereotypes.

Your contribution as a visual artist?

Much of my work reflects our Hispanic identity. I use elements of folk art to establish that connection that Latin Americans need to feel closer to our roots.

What I love most about my work as a visual artist is the opportunity to represent my community. When I was a kid, I don’t remember seeing Spanish people in my art books, and that’s something I’d like to contribute to. I want more children in schools to see faces that look like their mother or themselves, faces that identify with their community, so that they grow up knowing that Latinos have the same opportunities to succeed in the arts.

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