Pride is a sentiment that many identify with when wearing a pair of hoop earrings. For some time, big hoops were associated with cheapness. A person who wore them could be considered immodest and loose. However, there are acts that are reversing that connotation and reclaiming back the power.
One of those acts is by the LUNA, a collective of Latinx artists in Milwaukee. LUNA is currently showcasing an exhibit titled “Hoops,” representing the diversity through art within the Latinx community.
One of the pieces showcased at the art show was by artist Yesenia Corona. She created a mythology of a powerful jaguar. Corona says the jaguar represents her ancestors, breathing out a fire that creates a pair of hoop earrings.
“When you are born, most of the time you get your ears pierced,” said Corona. “You start graduating from a stud to a smaller hoop and then once you hit your quinceanera age you graduate to the big hoop. For this piece, I thought, what if that hoop is a gift from the ancestors that they give you.”
Another artist, Nicole Acosta, created a flipbook of three different sections. The first section is a written poem by Sandra Cisneros, the second is a picture of her grandmother in black and white. The third section is a picture of herself both in black and white and color. Acosta says she dedicated it to her grandmother.
“I remember growing up going into her jewelry and I would just play with all of it all of the time,” said Acosta. “For me, it was more about tradition and more about how my grandmother passed down certain characteristics to me that I didn’t quite realize until I got older and then just having to navigate the world as a Latina now and being proud to wear your hoops.”
“Hoop” featured many more artists, each portraying their own unique perspectives and creating a visual on what hoop earrings represent. The LUNA Collective says they hope to create more community events with their upcoming pop-up shop.
“We need like a place where we cannot only tell our stories to each other but also invite other people within our community to come in and share their stories,” said Corona. “And be able to make their practice in a space where we are kind of all are on the same wavelength.”
Jewelry is an expression of individuality and for many putting on hoops is an act of cultural pride. Some might not understand the significance of putting on an accessory could possibly represent something other than style but it’s human nature to associate meaning to items. Historically hoop earrings are symbols of resistance, strength and identity. For many, they signify power and can connect one back to heritage.
You can check out the exhibit at the Urban Ecology Center, Menomonee Valley, 3700 W. Pierce St., through November.
For more about LUNA, check out our video community story.