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Rolos & Icons- An Artist Pays Homage to Latina Women

I recently checked out some pretty dope art by native New Yorker M. Tony Peralta. I stumbled upon his pop-up gallery a few weeks ago while roaming the streets of the Lower East Side.

His latest work? A comical display of familiar, iconic Latina faces (both old and new), all featuring “rolos”- AKA rollers, as they’re more commonly known.

If you grew up in any Hispanic culture, at some point, you saw your mom, your abuela, or your tia with rollers in their hair. In fact, I grew up with a mother who left the house every morning of my life, with “rolos” on. I have to admit, it was so embarrassing growing up. There were times she even got off the car at school with those rollers on her hair and everyone just laughed. I still remember my neighbor growing up; to this day he still reminds me of how he remembers my mom: every morning, walking out the door with rolos in her hair. Que Pena! But the truth is, that its standard routine for any culture, specifically on Saturday mornings, if you’re a Dominican in Washington Heights.

Anyway, I had the opportunity to meet the artist himself and he explained his reasoning behind the rolos art and why he chose rolos to be the common bond that ties all of these legends together. His answer was simple- despite the culture you grew up in, you could relate to the rolos. Essentially, despite where you came from, all Latinos in one way or another share many similarities.

Peralta’s new work is a collection of several screen prints on canvas inspired by the artist’s mother (who recently passed away of Cancer), and the women who have influenced contemporary life: Frida Kahlo, Lynda Carter (Wonder Woman, who is half Mexican), Cuban legend, Celia Cruz, La Lupe, and Selena Quintanilla, to list a few, are in the cut. Even Dora the Explore is ready with her hair perfectly curled and ready for “la secadora”.

The rolos (or hair rollers) are homage to the reoccurring image of women (specifically Latinas) getting themselves ready for the world. Aware of the current social landscape of art Peralta hopes to invite more people of color to art through his utilization of Latina mediums claiming if you see yourself in the art, then you’d be more inclined to want to be part of art.

A native Washington Heights resident, Peralta participated in his first group art show in 2004 and it was then that he decided to print one of his more popular paintings, The Gaza Strip, on T-shirts. The shirts were carried by street wear boutiques like Probus, Goliath, The Vault, World, Empire Boutique, Nostylgia and The Brooklyn Circus.

Now almost 10 years old, his company The Peralta Project is an extension of his original artwork and inventive graphic designs. He mixes New York City Latino grit with hip-hop culture to create designs that resonate with people from all walks of life.

For more information on Tony Peralta and his artwork the Peralta Project and “Rolos & Icons” please visit

#CELIACRUZ #popart #washingtonheights #selena #wonderwoman #lowereastside #nyc #art