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Una Raíz Compartida (One Shared Root): Penn Museum’s Inaugural Resident Artist Launches Latinx Community Poetry Workshops

July 25, 2021

Jill DiSanto, Public Relations Director


PHILADELPHIA—The Penn Museum’s inaugural Resident Artist, Carlos José Pérez Sámano, will host a series of writing workshops, Una Raíz Compartida (One Shared Root), designed to engage Philadelphia’s Latinx communities. Born in Mexico City, Pérez Sámano is an experienced writer who explores the intersections of identity, mythology, and decolonization.

Offering opportunities for Spanish-speaking immigrants to tell stories about their own experiences, the program will teach basic poetry skills while fostering deeper attachments to cultural heritage by using artifacts from the Penn Museum’s Mexico and Central America Gallery. Community partners play an invaluable role as they bridge the Museum with Latinx communities as well as provide the locations for hosting the free workshops.

This July, Pérez Sámano has begun teaching workshops at Mighty Writers, a youth-centered nonprofit focused on writing. In October, he will continue at Centro de Cultura Arte Trabajo y Educacion (CCATE), which empowers Latinx communities through cultural activities, art, and education. Later in the Fall, the Mexican Cultural Center, Philatinos, and Philibros will provide promotional support by inviting their audiences to participate in the program.

While sharing information about the Museum’s collection, Una Raíz Compartida is designed to inspire reflections on the concepts of immigration, identity, loss, and belonging—encouraging participants to draw their own personal connections and welcoming members of diasporic communities to share in the agency and interpretation of the artifacts.

“Participants will find intimate ties to personal stories and their own heritage, while gaining a better understanding of the indigenous roots of Mexican culture through artifacts and objects in the gallery,” says Pérez Sámano, a Penn Museum Global Guide, who was commissioned by the National Opera Orchestra of Montpellier in France to write an opera about decolonization. “The main objective is to help people discover that our roots are shared—even if we come from different places."

Aside from having free access to poetry workshops, Una Raíz Compartida participants will also be invited to attend special “open house” sessions that offer private tours of the Penn Museum in Spanish.

Their poems may be selected to appear in Penn Museum’s Expedition magazine and online.

The residency concludes in April 2022 during National Poetry Month, with Una Raíz Compartida participants sharing their poems during a public poetry “slam” at the Penn Museum.


About the Penn Museum
The Penn Museum’s mission is to be a center for inquiry and the ongoing exploration of humanity for our University of Pennsylvania, regional, national, and global communities, following ethical standards and practices. Through conducting research, stewarding collections, creating learning opportunities, sharing stories, and creating experiences that expand access to archaeology and anthropology, the Museum builds empathy and connections across diverse cultures.

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