Afro-Latino in Philadelphia: Stories from El Barrio / On view through Jan. 9


Opened on December 4, 2015

Sandra Andino, "Emilio Tapia Percussionist & Youth web Advocate", 2010
Sandra Andino, “Emilio Tapia Percussionist & Youth Advocate”, 2011

Sandra Andino’s exhibition at Taller Puertorriqueño began as a personal project to learn about her family and ancestral roots. In examining her family photos, she saw records of her past and proof of her “existence.” The project led her to reflect on past racial experiences and prejudices directed at her as both a Latina and a black woman. The project grew into a conversation with others with similar backgrounds about being both black and Latino and of becoming aware of an Afro-Latino identity. Those personal and sensitive discussions became the geneses of this exhibition.

The photographer, Andino, is a trained cultural anthropologist whose concern is with people’s stories and experiences. Afro-Latino in Philadelphia: Stories from el Barrio explores the lives of Philadelphians she has met who identify as Afro-Latino. Her candid photographs of individuals at ease with themselves and their surroundings challenge the negative assumptions of race and identity. Along with the pictures, she invites us to understand the details of their lives by presenting us with their biographies. Their families, interests, and successes become part of the overall story.

In the accompanying recorded interviews, Andino asks the viewer to listen to the internal processes of these people as they consider their identity. Through these conversations, we learn about the false choices that they are asked to make between either identifying as black or Latino. We learn too, that ethnicity goes beyond the ability to speak a language, and that Latinos too feel the pain and sting of racism and prejudices. To be Afro-Latino, in the shadow of the American experience and the framework of Latino identity is to acknowledge their African heritage and to accept themselves fully.

Sandra Andino brought this project to fruition with the help of a Leeway Foundation grant. Culture Spots provided the technology and support to make the audio streaming possible. Shantee Rosado helped with translating and transcribing the Spanish audio, and Damani Lopez with the audio editing.

Recorded Interviews
Click the headphones to hear the recorded interviews online on being Afro-Latino


The gallery is supported by a grant from PECO, additional General Operating support, and the generous support of individuals through their membership contributions.

To contact or see more work by Sandra Andino visit her online at

For more information on the exhibition contact the curator, Rafael Damast at or by phone at 215-426-3311.