Storytelling allows children to explore the world around them and develop a sense of wonder and self, not to mention begin to understand the issues present in their community so that they can help their generation be better than the last.

This focus on storytelling is part of why the Mobile Red Calaca Studio, and it’s founder Rosalia Torres-Weiner, is a workshop you won’t want to miss at the 2018 Maker Faire on Saturday, October 13.

Her workshop begins with a story, which those who stop by her food-truck-turned-art-studio will get to finish by creating a puppet and performing a small performance. Guests will walk away having helped complete a story, and with a new puppet in tow.

“Once upon a time, there was a city named Charlotte, named after Queen Charlotte, who was a neat and tidy queen. The people of Charlotte were not neat and tidy though. The city was full of trash,” says Rosalia, reading the beginning of the story she plans to share with attendees of the faire on Saturday. Using recycled materials and their imaginations, kids and adults will be asked to create the aliens that arrive in the story to help clean up the city, and develop the rest of the story from where Rosalia ends it.

“I want them to learn how to tell their stories too, with boxes, with crayons and with found objects. At the end, the kids go in front of the theater and they can tell the story of how the people of Charlotte cleaned up the city,” she says.

The Mobile Red Calaca Studio was developed as a way for Rosalia to give back to the community. She began painting murals in people’s homes and commercially, but due to a collapse in the housing market, business slowed.

“I saw myself not painting, not creating. At the same time, I saw my community, the Latino community, struggling because of the deportation happening here in Charlotte that people didn’t know was happening here. And I turned my art to my community and started using it for activism and for supporting my community,” said Rosalia. “When I got my truck I was able to bring the arts to underserved areas in Charlotte. Then the Arts and Science Council helped me to get to more places where the arts didn’t reach people. It’s so rewarding, because I bring the arts to people.”

Her work focuses largely on immigration and social justice, reflecting stories of children separated from parents due to deportation, and displaced families. Her murals and art pieces are largely “dedicated to all the immigrants in the Charlotte area in response to all the anti-immigrant sentiments. All my murals have these colors and stories that reflect the Latino community. I want them to feel at home because they are a big part of the economy.”

As a storyteller and artist, she relies heavily on her experiences and the experiences of those in her community to develop not only her artwork but the way her workshops go, too. “I’m giving to the community. We’re all together. We’re building a community together and exchanging ideas. We talk about the issues that affect us and the overall community,” says Rosalia. “This is a learning process. Every time I go for a workshop, I see the needs and I see hope. I learn how we need to do it differently, and I’m very excited to be a part of the event on Saturday.”

Rosalia Torres-Weiner will be at the 2018 Charlotte Mini-Maker Faire on Saturday, October 13. For more information on the Mobile Red Calaca Studio, check out Rosalia’s website.

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