With very limited props and costumes, a camera, and vintage photograph as reference, two New York City-based artists sought to honor Latina icons through multimedia. As a result, Linda Nieves-Powell and Rebecca Gitana Torres recreated seminal moments from Selena, Rita Moreno, and four other historic Latina figures in a photographic and film tribute.
Torres, a television producer and host, transformed into the six Latina women whose images inspired generations of fans. “It was an emotional experience to reimagine women who broke through so many barriers to claim their space in the world,” Torres told NBC News. “Each of these women was epic and powerful in her own right and channeling each of them was healing and empowering.” The tribute originally started with Puerto Rican-American singer and actress Rita Moreno, who was most famous in the ’70s. But the photo collection quickly branched into re-capturing photos of Tejano singer, Selena Quintanilla, Mexican painter Frida Kahlo, Brazilian singer and dancer Carmen Miranda, Dominican actress Maria Montez, and Puerto Rican entertainer Iris Chacon.
While the artists admitted these women hold a special place in inspiring their personal journeys, they noted that a little of each icon lives in all Latina women. “I think about the climate that these women were working in and how they had to create doors that did not exist,” Nieves-Powell said. “They were talented, fearless, bold, and confident and I feel that parts of them live in me and in all of us,” she said. “They help me understand my Latina identity.”
In addition to the photo gallery, Torres and Nieves-Powell released a behind-the-scenes video, chronicling the recreation process for each icon. Nieves-Powell says this tribute has inspired their next project, an art piece celebrating iconic Afro-Latinas for Women’s History Month.