Evanston performer finds ‘we are all connected through art’

Claudia Renteria began her acting career when she was 12. In Morelia, Michoacán, Mexico, Renteria began attending summer school, which included theater class. It is that love of art that helped her through the many changes she has made in her life. “Theater has saved my life many times,” she […]

Claudia Renteria began her acting career when she was 12. In Morelia, Michoacán, Mexico, Renteria began attending summer school, which included theater class.

It is that love of art that helped her through the many changes she has made in her life. “Theater has saved my life many times,” she said. “Once I started taking the classes, I loved it.”

The RoundTable sat down with Renteria to talk about the impact of art and performance on people’s lives after her recent Mother’s Day program, which focused on the letters artist Frida Kahlo and her mother wrote to one another.

On Mother’s Day, Renteria and the Evanston Latinos Organization and its co-founder, Norbella Peña, hosted a reading and dramatization of the letters as well as readings of attendees who submitted pieces about their mother-and-daughter relationships, the majority of which were specific to the Hispanic culture.

“Some submissions were women discussing their accent and how worried they were that they could lose their jobs because of their English,” Renteria said about the event. But really, all of the letters were “about finding commonality in immigration”

Renteria has bridged theater and immigration in her life to represent not only her own experience, but that of others in the Evanston community. Today she works as the Family Engagement & Community Specialist at the Joseph E. Hill Early Childhood Education Center in District 65.

While Renteria may not be acting as much as she used to, she is using what she learned from the theater world to enrich the arts in Evanston and the greater Chicago area.

Renteria says Kahlo’s immigration narrative resonates with many other young women, including herself. She too found a new life in the states but also realized she was missing a country that, while it may have been geographically close, felt worlds away.

Evanston performer finds ‘we are all connected through art’

Dong Anker

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