LVC Professors Collaborate on Gallery Exhibit Featuring Latino History of Central PA

Two women pose in an image from the Dutchirican exhibit at the Suzanne H. Arnold Art Gallery

Two Lebanon Valley College professors are collaborating on an art exhibit that tells the story of Latinos and their roots in Central Pennsylvania. The exhibit, Dutchirican: A Latino History of Central Pennsylvania, features the work of Dr. John Hinshaw, professor of history, and Dr. Ivette Guzmán-Zavala, associate professor of Spanish and whose original training was in art. The first exhibition on Latino migration to Central Pennsylvania, Dutchirican will be on display at the Suzanne H. Arnold Art Gallery at LVC from June 29—August 13. There will be an opening reception for the exhibit Friday, June 30 from 5–7 p.m. that is free and open to the public.

Dutchirican combines photography and public history. Historic photographs are displayed from Frank Espada’s work on the Puerto Rican diaspora in the 1970s, as well as contemporary photographs from Rolfe Ross, Lackawanna County, and Dr. Guzmán-Zavala, from Lebanon County. The public history traces the contributions of Spanish-speakers to Pennsylvania from the American Revolution and the Civil War to the present.  

Dr. Hinshaw, who grew up in Missouri, remembered seeing wooden shacks near farms, but admits, “In the 1970s, Puerto Rico or Mexico were just names of places far, far away. The idea that people from those places would live and work near me was a very foreign idea.”   

The idea took root when Dr. Hinshaw arrived at LVC and he started researching the changing demographics of Central Pennsylvania. He read interviews where people talked about migrants living in sheds behind people’s houses, and met people who talked about the “tomateros” who came from Puerto Rico to pick the canning tomatoes for Campbell’s and other companies in the 1940s and 1950s. 

Through their research, Dr. Hinshaw and Dr. Guzmán-Zavala, who are married, developed a friendship with the daughter of a “tomatero.” She was raised, for a few years, in a converted chicken house and one of her prize possessions was part of a wall where her father had worked in the 1950s. He had lived in that “cave,” and wrote a message on the side of the wall, basically leaving a mark that he was there, and deserved to be remembered. Years later, when the shed was pulled down, the farmer’s family gave that piece of the wall to her.

“That kind of voice of the voiceless, an enigmatic message on the wall of a shed, was the seed for this exhibit,” says Dr. Hinshaw. “My wife and I are looking to give voice to that sentiment.  To show that Puerto Ricans and others have roots in this area, have contributed to its prosperity and history, and deserve to be remembered and understood.”

Hinshaw adds, “For the last 50 years, two-thirds of all population growth in the state has been because of the arrival of Puerto Ricans, Mexicans, Dominicans, and Cubans. Newspapers tend to emphasize conflict, which obscures the ways that Latinos are changing, and being changed, by the region. Few know that a sizeable Hispanic Mennonite community has developed in the region.”

The Gallery is open Wednesday from 5–8 p.m., Thursday and Friday from 1–4:30 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday from 11 a.m.–5 p.m. Schools and other organizations are encouraged to contact the Gallery for a guided visit. Additional information is available at www.lvc.edu/gallery, gallery@lvc.edu, or 717-867-6445. Keep up with the latest Gallery news on Facebook.