Worcester Windows: “Dominican Carnival: A Colorful Tale of Satire and World Heritage”

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Guardians of Traditions & Cojuelos’ Productions Announce Exhibition Opening & Programming for “Dominican Carnival: A Colorful Tale of Satire and World Heritage”

Vanessa Joga of Guardians of Traditions and Rosario Ubiera-Minaya, founder and principal of Cojuelos’ Productions, bring to the local public the work of famed Dominican photographer Arismendy Ferreras, winner of Best Carnival Photo in Dominican Republic, as well as images captured by Troy B. Thompson, founder of the No Evil Project, as part of a curated experience about the history of Dominican carnival.

The exhibition will feature a curated collection of color printed photographs and carnival costumes presented in sequence to take the audience through a journey of the vibrancy of the Dominican carnival.

“It brings us so much pride and honor to have the opportunity to present aspects of the history and culture of the Dominican Republic and to educate others about our rich roots and traditions, especially our younger generations,” says Joga.

Dominicans in Massachusetts account for the fourth largest Dominican population in the country, behind New York, New Jersey, and Florida. Considered the oldest carnival in the Americas, with historical sources dating as far back as 1510 and 1700, the Dominican carnival represents the cultural history of the island of Hispaniola and the Dominican people.

Festivals that marked the start of Lent were a European tradition that made their way to the Americas in the sixteenth century and transitioned into the carnivals we know of today. The Dominican Republic’s carnival is held on the 27th of February. Carnival is held in other parts of the Caribbean and Latin America in either February or March in the days leading up to the start of Lent. The timing of the declaration of independence was then a good fit with that of carnival.

“Its celebrations, costumes, traditions, dances and folklore define the Dominican Republic’s remarkable ability to combine and integrate all the different immigrant groups that make up its population, with each element providing a now-integral part of a culture that (due to its immigration to the East Coast of the United States) plays a very significant role in the general culture of the Latino community around the country,” says renowned Dominican writer and archeologist Leonardo Nin, a guest expert invited to contribute to the programming.

The programming will include a panel presentation about the history, evolution, and influences of the Dominican carnival by experts Joga and Nin and a live performance of carnival characters. All programming is free and open to the public and is suitable for families and children. This event is a collaboration between Guardians of Traditions and Cojuelos’ Productions with support from the Worcester Pop-Up, the City of Worcester, and the Worcester Cultural Coalition.

About Cojuelos’ Productions: Cojuelos’ Productions proudly celebrates all artistic expression through creative, innovative, diverse, and culturally oriented programming. It is a social enterprise that thrives on creating curated experiences for private, corporate, and community settings with an  emphasis on cultural & educational programming. In addition, it offers consulting services for effective community engagement, cultural awareness, and audience development strategies and uses arts and culture as tools for engagement. Cojuelos’ Productions specifically focus on creating a platform for elevating under-represented cultures and communities of color. It develops opportunities for showcasing art, passion, and creativity and contributes to the professional and creative growth of creatives and their communities.

About Guardians of Traditions: Guardians of Traditions creates entertaining and culturally relevant events that reflect the region’s diversity and engages the youth from underserved communities. The Carnival costumes displayed as part of the exhibit are from Guardians of Traditions’ private collection.

Worcester Windows: Worcester Windows is a community gallery program that uses storefronts throughout downtown Worcester as exhibit space to enhance the City’s downtown area and to provide opportunities for local emerging and established artists.

Worcester PopUp: The Worcester PopUp is a collaboration between the City of Worcester, the Worcester Cultural Coalition, the Hanover Theater, and the Worcester Business Development Corp., in partnership with The Barr Foundation. This “permanent popup” space offers a place for local artists, organizations, and creatives to create, display, and develop a variety of creative-based events ranging from art shows, open mics, music performances, and more.

Worcester Cultural Coalition (WCC): The Worcester Cultural Coalition is a public-private partnership established in 1999 between the City of Worcester and local cultural organizations. Its mission is to draw on Worcester’s rich and diverse cultural assets in order to foster economic revitalization, support active, creative engagement for all, and promote a strong cultural identity for Greater Worcester.


“Dominican Carnival: A Colorful Tale of Satire and World Heritage”
Exhibition Schedule

All programming is free and open to the public.

Now on view until March 10, 2020 at the following locations, in conjunction with Worcester Windows:

  • Worcester City Hall: The most important characters of carnival, as per historic meaning, that go from colonial, religious syncretism, and immigration, many of which have been named Intangible World Heritage by UNESCO.
  • Hanover Theater: A fantasy Lechon (piglet) costume from the renowned Dominican carnival group Los Guazones (The Jokers), a colonial character that used to be called the Gatekeeper, as they used to open the parade and with the crack of their whip and keep the crowd away from their masters. This character is from the province Santiago De Los Caballeros, a former Spanish colony, located in the northern part of the Dominican Republic.
  • Bay State Savings Bank (Franklin Street): Pepinero Lechon from the renowned carnival group Los Guazones (The Jokers). Unlike the fantasy Lechon, this one has smooth horns and is from the borough of Los Pepinos, which gives name to the costume, as it represents this area located in Santiago.
  • WICN Public Radio (Portland Street): Carnival photograph and exhibit description.

Upcoming Events

  • February 25 | Exhibition Opening at the Worcester PopUp: Curated exhibit of photos and carnival costumes featuring photographs by artists Arismendy Ferreras, Dominican Photographer, and Troy B. Thompson, founder of the No Evil Project. Carnival Costumes are from the Guardians of  Traditions’ private collection. Opens on February 25 and runs until March 10th at the Worcester Pop-Up (20 Franklin St, 1st Floor, Worcester, MA).
  • February 29 | Opening Reception at the Worcester PopUp: Includes a children’s art-making activity (1:30-2:30 PM), a panel on the history of Dominican Carnival (3-4 PM), a performance with carnival characters (4:30-5 PM), and an opening reception celebration with appetizers and signature cocktails (5-6 PM).

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