Hispanic Heritage Month: Jose Torres-Tama, a New Orleans artist from Ecuador

NEW ORLEANS (WGNO) — WGNO is saluting Hispanic heritage, and one of the ways it’s celebrated is through visual art. One New Orleans artist celebrates his culture by recognizing the struggle of brown and Black people.

Along St. Claude Avenue you’ll find the art studio of Jose Torres-Tama. Right now, he’s preparing for the unveiling of his “The Color of Music” series to highlight artists who gained success while under oppression, like jazz musician Jelly Roll Morton.

“They’ll have around their heads, they’ll have these fiery, abstract, reddish forms that really speak to the emotional fire within them because they’re dealing with being segregated,” said Torres-Tama.

Torres-Tama uses his own personal experiences to capture the nature of the art.

“So, I think the work speaks of Latinidad, of the Latin nature of my own personal fire,” he said.

He was born in Ecuador but grew up in Manhattan. His journey to New Orleans started with an encyclopedia.

“And there, it opened up miraculously to a corner in New Orleans, at the corner of St. Peter and Royal streets. I saw the architecture and though ‘wow’,” he said.

He was not only entranced by the architecture and history, but also by the street art and performers.

“So, I got a chance to really experience the culture and subculture. That just seduced me. I was like ‘I’m not going anywhere.’ I’m staying here,” he said.

New Orleans is where Torres-Tama continues to be inspired to make art.

“This is basically, this new body of work, is my gift to the city of music that’s given me so much,” he said.

Torres-Tama is hosting an open studio from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 14 at 1329 St. Roch Ave. in New Orleans.

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