So much history — and even legends — are passed down and taught through art. It's a way to teach and create a sense of community.
The Arizona Latino Arts & Cultural Center is trying to keep that tradition alive now that the doors are finally back open.
Elizabeth Toledo is the Executive Director for ALAC. She’s an artist and a natural storyteller as we found out when she gave ABC15 a tour.
She stopped by a colorful painting of an Indigenous woman holding her daughter who is noticeably in black and white.
"I get the chills every time I see and explain this," she said. She went on to explain, “This is the woman looking for her daughter or some of the lost. And this is, as you can see, she's in black and white. She's not in color so she's not there anymore.”
The piece was meant to draw attention to and spread awareness about the issue of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls.
Every piece at ALAC has a story to tell, whether it’s different interpretations of the legend of La Llorona or a portrait of slain Texas Army Soldier Vanessa Guillen.
ALAC is located off Adams Street near the Phoenix Convention Center. Toledo was joined by fellow artist Roman Reyes during the tour.
"The big window... was boarded up. And so... Pierston, the artist, he said, 'I don't like to see that board there,' so he painted her. This had just come up,” Toledo recalled. The “her” she’s referring to is Guillen whose murder by a fellow soldier prompted a national outcry.
The center opened back up earlier this year. Events and exhibits that had been put on hold for more than a year are now up and running. And ofrendas like the one on display in the middle of the center will be on display at their Dia De Los Muertos event that will take place during the beginning of November.
They're always working on new events and work to display, but the center is also a place to foster talent.
Reyes said, “We reach out to the community. There’s a lot of people who come through our doors and so we're here to serve them and to help them and to educate them."
They say this is a space for everyone to come and be heard.
And with new talent always emerging in Arizona, they know there will be no shortage of stories to tell.
They also have a store located at the center they call “La Tiendita" where they sell local artists' items and artwork. The center is open Tuesdays through Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Toledo and Reyes say the best way to see what their next events are is on their Facebook page.