We spoke to five Bolivian-American creatives who are expanding their narratives through varied forms of artistic expression within fashion, photography, music, film and art. Click through each page below for a different story.
VANESSA ACOSTA // PHOTOGRAPHER & FASHION DESIGNER
Photography was an unlikely medium for Vanessa Acosta, whose creative process and aesthetic emerged from a career in fashion design. She grew up in the mostly white, conservative Orange County, California and rarely connected with her Bolivian heritage outside of home.
But, when Acosta moved to Los Angeles with aspirations in garment design, she was able to explore her culture through indigenous textiles characteristic of the Bolivian cities of La Paz and Oruro—where her parents are from.
She launched her sustainable brand, Wasi Clothing—aptly meaning “Home” in Quechua—soon after. The design and branding process then provided a segue into photography, which led to the Bolivianita Series.
“I was designing clothing with Bolivian textiles so I got a camera to photograph the pieces and that started to garner attention,” she says.
Her followers made her keenly aware of how her art provided a platform for connecting with other Bolivians. In light of that, she realized the power and responsibility she had to represent Bolivian women to the rest of the world. She expresses her love of both fashion design and photography as a balancing act that has allowed her to explore and bring her closer to her identity.
”We are now finally speaking up, creating our own narratives, being the authors of our own stories, and expressing that through creative outlets and projects as first-generation Bolivian hyphenated Americans.”