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Celebrating the Life

February 20, 2013 - 9:46am

Event: “Tengo Casi 500 Años: Africa’s Legacy in Mexico, Central and South America,” photography by Tony Gleaton. The event is free and open to the public.

When: 4:15 - 5 p.m., Wednesday, February 20, 2013. Exhibit runs through April 1, 2013.

Where: Benson Latin American Collection, Sid Richardson Hall, Unit 1 (SRH 1.108) at The University of Texas at Austin.

 Background: The Benson Latin American Collection and the Teresa Lozano Long Institute of Latin American Studies (LLILAS) will host an exhibition of work by photographer Tony Gleaton as a companion to the 2013 Lozano Long Conference “Refashioning Blackness: Contesting Racism in the Afro-Americas.”

Tengo Casi 500 Años: Africa’s Legacy in Mexico, Central and South America” features 24 images from  Gleaton’s catalog of his travels throughout Mexico and South America documenting what the Mexican National Government refers to as “Nuestro Tercera Raiz” — “Our Third Root” — the populations of African descent that are scattered throughout Central and South America.

“I believe that the value of these photographs lies not in the fact that they provide answers,” says Gleaton. “Their value is that in by viewing them, we are provided a place from which we may choose to start a discussion.”

Gleaton first pursued his interest in photography in 1974, eventually traveling to New York where he aspired to become a fashion photographer. In 1980 he left New York, hitchhiking throughout the American West doing odd jobs and photographing cowboys, concentrating on Native American ranch hands and black rodeo riders. In the process, he was introduced to Mexican rodeo and began traveling to and from Mexico with a group of charros from Los Angeles.

Gleaton began his journey through the black communities of Mexico, Central and South America in 1986, seeking to document the African Diaspora in an effort to provide visibility to a segment of society that he views as invisible. He traveled over 50,000 miles on the ground in 16 countries to complete “Tengo Casi 500 Años: Africa's Legacy in Mexico, Central & South America.”

Gleaton will provide remarks at an opening reception for the exhibit in the 2nd floor conference room of the Benson Latin American Collection. Both the exhibition and conference are free and open to the public, with space available on a first-come, first-served basis.

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