Leticia Vázquez

[pro-player repeat=’true’ width=’330′ height=’455′ playlist=’bottom’]http://folkarts.ohioartscouncil.org/wp-content/uploads/OAC09-0127-LetiVazq-01_x264.mp4,http://folkarts.ohioartscouncil.org/wp-content/uploads/OAC09-0127-LetiVazq-02_x264.mp4,http://folkarts.ohioartscouncil.org/wp-content/uploads/OAC09-0127-LetiVazq-03_x264.mp4[/pro-player]Leticia Vazquez is a cultural worker, a researcher, a craftswoman and an avid promoter of Mexican traditional culture in Columbus. Two of her specialties are foodways and Day of the Dead celebrations. She is also president of the Latino Arts for Humanity organization and she has curated an annual Day of the Day program at various locations in Columbus since 2005. She owns Azteca Catering, a traditional Mexican food company that produces artisan recipes form Central and Southern Mexico made with organic ingredients.

Vazquez was born in Mexico City to a family that was deeply involved in the business of preserving and promoting Mexico’s cultural and historical assets. As a child, she danced in folkloric ensemble and even won a competition in Mexico City. She grew up close to her grandmother who taught her family recipes and many handcrafts. She also learned form her mother. In 1999 she came to the U.S. as an exchange student with the Columbus International Program, and eventually made Columbus her home.

Vazquez first demonstrated the Mexican Day of the Dead tradition in Columbus as part of a show-and-tell activity during her student exchange program. Years later, starting in 2005 to the present, this material became the basis for an annual exhibition and a series of Day of the Dead workshops in English and in Spanish. In the workshops she explains the Pre-Hispanic roots of this tradition and the syncretism between native and Spanish Catholic culture. She also invites different families and local artists each year to participate and create their own altar offerings. Vazquez’s own work featured in the exhibits includes painted paper and glue masks, sculptures and boxes that portray a variety of allusive characters and scenes.

In 2001, Leticia Vazquez participated in Latino Migration Stories, an oral history project curated by Rosa Rojas of the Ohio Historical Society. This project became a successful traveling exhibit and eventually led to the creation of the Latino Arts for Humanity organization together with other local artists. In 2005, Vazquez became the president of this organization. Today, the organization maintains a blog to promote Latino arts and culture.

Leticia Vazquez established Azteca Catering partly as a personal business and partly as an extension of her passion to preserve and educate others about traditional Mexican culture. The company specializes in the preparation of organic, authentic and sometimes lesser-known Mexican recipes, such as the cream of pumpkin soup or cactus salad featured in a Columbus Dispatch article on December 23, 2009. In preparation for establishing this company, Vazquez traveled through the Mexican states of Hidalgo, Oaxaca, Quintana Roo, Chiapas and Mexico researching and collecting recipes.

In the future, Vazquez hopes to continue her cultural mission, to raise funds to create larger projects, and to get more people involved to take on some of the responsibilities.

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