Paz En El Barrio (Peace In The Hood)

Paz En El Barrio is a publication that seeks to bring members of Kansas City’s Westside together, through the sharing of stories and experiences connected with growing up and living there. Rodolfo Marron III is an artist who was raised on the Westside of Kansas City and has lived there almost his entire life. He has seen the progress and hip gentrification that has been happening over the last few years. As a Mexican American, he looks at his barrio and wonders if all the brown folk will someday be pushed out. As he deals with the duality of wanting to be excited for his neighborhood, he often feels there are invaders stepping in, not fully understanding the struggles that this community has faced. Like – the countless lives of young, brown men who died due to gang violence, or the fire of ’96 that engulfed his parents’ restaurant. How could outsiders know these stories, and how could members of the Westside remember these things once they got older and moved away, or were forced out?

Rodolfo decided to start documenting his own family’s journey to the Midwest as illegal immigrants. How could he honor all the things his grandfather did for this growing Mexican community – the legacy that he set and the one that Rodolfo’s own father followed? In response he decided to create his own legacy by preserving this little piece of history. .

As he shared his own stories on social media, he found the Westside and arts community becoming very excited and wanting to know more. Rodolfo’s posts were only about his own experience and perspective, and he realized that he wanted to expand on that and include the many other voices of the Westside.

Since his own art work already focuses on connecting to his roots, creating this publication felt like the next step in continuing that conversation – a small gift for the families of his neighborhood, to give them some peace in knowing that they would not go unnoticed or forgotten. He soon discovered that he is not the only one who shares this desire to preserve family legacies. As other local artists offered to lend their skills, Rodolfo realized the project could grow further than he had ever anticipated.

He also knew that putting this publication into classrooms, libraries etc. would make a difference to those who need to see the histories of other brown individuals. Rodolfo hopes this book will inspire future generations of Latinos in the area to pursue and preserve their own legacy, and expand on their story for their children yet to come.

For the initial few months of the project Rodolfo will personally reach out to members of the Westside community and conduct research by inviting residents to have sit-down conversations. These conversations will serve as testimonials, which will then be documented by video and audio recordings. Once these interviews have been compiled, a group of local creatives will begin the editing, layout and design process. Simultaneously, Rodolfo will begin connecting with local community centers, schools and libraries to which he will donate copies of Paz En El Barrio.

A partnership with Guadalupe Center, which is located at the heart of the Westside, will create a venue for an official book release and community celebration. The Guadalupe Center provides education from preschool all the way to High School. This partnership will allow the publication to be used as learning tool for their Latinx students, who make up a large percentage of the student body.

For Rodolfo, Paz En El Barrio will provide the community with a time to remember, laugh, and bond over something as simple as the place his people call home – the place where they live and sometimes die. He says “This is not about territory, this is about existing in a specific place in time, and not being forgotten or pushed out. It’s about a time of peace and togetherness, a healing for all the families I have seen being torn apart. This is for the raza, for peace in the hood.”

 

photo credit Barrett Emke

Rodolfo Marron III was born in Los Angeles but raised in Kansas City’s Westside neighborhood, As an artist he has shown his work in various exhibitions throughout the KC metro area. The most notable among these have been the Nerman Museum of Contemporary Art, in 2015,  and the Kemper Museum at the Crossroads, as part of the 2016 Charlotte Street Visual Arts Award exhibition. Along with the fellowship award from CSF, Rodolfo was also awarded the Byron C. Cohen Award, and was accepted to the 2017 Art Omi Residency and Fire Island Artist Residency in New York.

Photo credit Melissa Burgess

Chico Sierra is a visual and performing artist living in Kansas City, MO. Growing up in El Paso, Texas, He began crossing borders early having lived with people of different classes and cultures in the United States, Mexico, Canada, Germany and the Philippines. The cultures that Sierra experienced in these countries, as well as the theme of blurring borders can be found in Sierra’s art, poetry and music which is heavily influenced by graffiti, pop art, Mexican folk art and political comics. Sierra uses different mediums of expression, working in fine art, graphic design, illustration, poetry and music. His paintings, photography, and sculpture can be found at various local galleries. His book of poetry, Air Becomes Glass was published in August 2016 by Spartan Press.