The subjects for this week's Somos Latinos project all seem to be motivated by the desire to share their creativity, which is as unique as they are:

A dancer who is a product of the Spanish and Native American Southwest but has taken her art in an unexpected direction.

A Peruvian painter who fell in love with the strong colors in this part of the United States.

A tattoo artist who made his own first tattoo guns.

A Mexican musician who plays rock a la Led Zeppelin and not Santana.

And another Mexicano whose idea of beauty is no better exemplified than on the face and hairstyle of a Latin woman.

Perhaps tattoo artist Mario "Mr. Güerito" Martinez summed it up best: "I want my legacy to be art."


The Artists


'I had a bad spell in my life about eight years ago, and I was doing the gang thing and I was doing the drug thing, and I put my kids second in my life. Prison changed me a lot. I wouldn't be the funny, joking-type person I am now if I didn't go to prison and get off drugs. It was my kids that pushed me to that. They said, "You've been gone a long time, but you're still my dad." That keeps me going drug free, keeps me going alcohol-free and being a positive influence on the other tattoo artists that I work with.'


Advertisement

- Mario "Mr. Güerito" Martinez, tattoo artist, 36


'Not until adult life did I find that there are certain conditions, certain tags that you have. You're going to be tagged as a Latino, Hispanic. Embrace it humbly. Just represent your culture and represent yourself as humbly as possible. It's not all about brown pride. Just being a Latino is to be knowledgeable about your culture, your history, and being able to share that with everybody, including your own culture, because sometimes we're just as ignorant as the next person.'

- Miguel Aviña, Singer and lead guitarrist of Izcalli, 26


'My idol for dance is Maria Tall Chief. She was the first Native American ballerina, and she's also Hispanic. She was the reason I started dancing, and I've been trying to follow in her footsteps and just be part of that legacy.'

- Alyssa Lynna Velásquez, Colorado Ballet Corps de Ballet, Dancer, 23


'I always remember the basics that my grandmother taught me. Have passion for what you want and have compassion for others. That's what I see in us. We know how to forgive. And we're just so full of love, Latinos, we can make wonders with any little thing. We die with that passion in ourselves.'

- Norberto "Beto" Mojardín, Hair and makeup artist, 37


'I've been living here for 30 years, and I talk to people and I try to explain things, and it's so hard for them to understand what I'm trying to say. But when I'm with someone who is Latino, they understand in one minute.'

- Maria Elena Kaplan, artist


We want to hear from you!

How do you define yourself? As Latino, Hispanic, Chicano, American? And what does that definition mean to you? What makes it true? Maybe even tell us what makes you most proud - as a Latino or just as a person. And finally, what would you like to impart to the next generation?

We'll publish the best responses.

Email your letters at noticias@VivaColorado.com.