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Seton Hall University

Data Visualization Driven Conversations about Latinx Community Continue


Students attend Data Visualization event during Hispanic Heritage Month 2022.

Walsh Gallery hosts artist Dr. Martin Calvino

Walsh Gallery hosts artist Martin Calvino, Ph.D.

Conversations from Hispanic Heritage Month continue into December will continue into the New Year at SHU. Teaching data and visual literacy skills to the SHU community is a focus across campus including at Walsh Library and Walsh Gallery. On October 5, there was an important dialogue led by Martin Calvino, Ph.D., an American/Uruguayan multimedia artist and scientist. Calvino uses data visualization and art to examine mortgage approval rates among Latinx borrowers in his interdisciplinary project that illuminates social justice and equity issues. Calvino spoke with Unanue Student Scholars, Seton Hall faculty and administrators as part of the 2022 Hispanic Heritage Month programming.

Calvino’s project, '31 South,' is a personal narrative of the his journey to home ownership. Calvino employs data, graphs, art, and audio in his immersive multimedia project which uses open-source data as a tool for empowerment. '31 South' addresses rates of home ownership by Latinx people, traditionally a marker of independence and upward mobility.

Jeanne Brasile, Director of Walsh Gallery, remarks “Calvino advocates for equity in the home buying and mortgage application processes which he believes begins with data literacy to achieve personal empowerment.” Brasile continues, “Calvino’s work aligns with the spirit of Hispanic Heritage Month which honors the generations of Latinx people who have positively enriched our society. Students were clearly inspired by Calvino’s work, staying long after his presentation to informally converse in the gallery against the backdrop of his artwork, sharing their perspectives and personal experiences.” Roxanne Scott and Nancy Trujillo of Futuro Media Group in New York City came to the event and interviewed students for their forthcoming podcast to be released in winter 2023.

Omayra Arocho, Ph.D., Associate Dean, College of Education and Human Services also attended the event. Arocho observes, “Dr. Calvino’s '31 South' brilliantly integrates research and art to highlight the disparity in mortgage lending practices and rates of home ownership in New Jersey. His goal of making public data accessible to increase an understanding of practices as well as provide tools for community/self-advocacy were certainly met at this session at Seton Hall. To experience a student participant, share that he attended because he wanted to bring back information to his family, who was denied a home mortgage loan, was a powerful testament to the importance of these critical conversations in academic spaces.”

The event "created a span of resourceful information that needs to be shared with our fellow communities,” remarked Cristina Cosme, Program Coordinator, The Joseph A. Unanue Latino Institute. “As a student you never really know what your parents are facing while looking into buying a house. To be able to have my eyes opened and realize that because we mark a box saying we are Hispanic, these banks take advantage of us. We are not judged fairly by our credit scores, employment history and pay stubs but by the box we check off.” Cosme commented, “When seeing the students speak while being interviewed, sharing their personal stories and perspectives on such an important topic Calvino spoke about I felt proud and honored to be able to have these amazing students at the Joseph A. Unanue Latino Institute. As their manager, I have seen them blossoming, take leadership roles, speak their voices, and watch them being able to express their thoughts during an interview in such a calm manner, I could not feel prouder of them. We have an amazing group of students here.”

Calvino’s work is on display in Walsh Gallery until December 9, 2022. Calvino recommended the book, Weapons of Math Destruction, to the audience, to learn more about computer algorithms and the biases that can live within data. To learn more about Data Ethics and Bias, consult this Data Ethics Research Guide.

The Walsh Gallery is open to collaborating with students and campus organizations for future events that incorporate visual literacy with gallery objects. Interested students should contact [email protected]. Additionally, University Libraries is committed to teaching students how to find datasets relevant to their studies or personal interests. The library has three subscriptions including ICPSR, Statista and PolicyMap, which can help students find data relating to Hispanic demographics, and current events and world issues affecting the Latinx community. Click here to know more about SHU data subscriptions.

Categories: Arts and Culture, Business, Education