One of Presente Magazine’s goals is to highlight Latinos making an impact in our community. Chilean video producer Andrés Tapia Urzúa is one of these people. Andrés is dedicated to video production, music, contemporary media exploration, poetry, among other things, and his talent makes us proud. His Latino Americans Pittsburgh project, in collaboration with Casa San José, has managed to give a more accurate representation of the diversity of the Latino community in our region.
Andrés came to Pittsburgh in March of 1987. He immediately missed the Chilean people’s sense of humor, and their ability to laugh at themselves, transforming everything into jokes or poetry. Memories of the Pacific coast of Chile were key in helping him cope with the harsh winter seasons.
In Pittsburgh, I liked the freedom of time and space that I did not find in other cities… It was not a saturated place, yet,” shared Andrés.
At first, he worked for a time washing dishes, but soon many possibilities opened up in the field of video production especially through Pittsburgh Filmmakers supporting freelance filmmakers, videographers, and photographers. Then, a bigger opportunity. Andrés was offered work and art studies at Carnegie Mellon University.
Over the years his passion for observation and analysis of social issues grew. In 2019, the right set of circumstances helped the Latino Americans Pittsburgh (LAP) project flourish. The Justice Art Grant (Just Arts), sponsored by the Heinz Endowments Foundation for art projects on social injustice, was funding projects at a time when social and racial issues in our community and the country could no longer be ignored.
The mission of LAP is to build human connection, promote social understanding, cultural awareness, and build a more inclusive society in our community. Each video on the series portrays a different Latino immigrant and shares a true vision about their lives, leaving aside opportunistic political manipulations. These portraits of the life of Latino immigrants in their own words empower, educate, promote, and contribute to recognizing our common bond as humans, promoting understanding and a more diverse and inclusive society.
According to Mónica Ruiz Caraballo, Executive Director of Casa San José, the LAP project has helped document and demonstrate Latino contributions to the economic and cultural development of the United States.
Through Andrés Tapia Urzúa’s work, we’re learning about people whose stories inspire us to continue working toward our dreams as immigrants. He is a talented Latino artist making video productions that touch people’s hearts,” she said.
In addition to his professional work with clients or institutions, Andrés often works on personal projects and collaborates with fellow artists. Currently, he is working on a virtual reality project with the National Museum of Fine Arts in Havana, Cuba. He also keeps busy with an experimental video called “Equus” and making a new music album called ATU. Andrés is never bored. “There are always plenty of ideas to develop and ways to keep yourself entertained,” he shares enthusiastically.
Through his experience here, Andrés has learned a thing or two. To Latinos just arriving in Pittsburgh he recommends: “Always believe in yourself. I hope you can explore and take advantage of all the possibilities this new social context will offer… Here, people respect those who have talent and dedicate themselves to it in a credible way.” He added, “if you understand this, then with dedication and hard work you can grow or reinvent yourself, and you will do well.”
We thank Andrés for sharing his story and talent with us. His videos and music are on social networks like Vimeo, YouTube, Spotify (ATU), etc. and his full video collection can be found on Vtape: https://www.vtape.org. Reach out to Andrés via his production company Plan Z Media at firstname.lastname@example.org.