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A new exhibit by Dominican artist Manuel Tony Peralta aims to explore the issues of skin color, hair texture, self-esteem and what it means to be Latino and Black.

The exhibit, titled “Complejo,” which means complex in Spanish, features the face of Dominican former MLB superstar Sammy Sosa, who over a year ago began a startling transformation when he started bleaching his skin for a lighter look.

The look shocked many in his community including Peralta, who grew up with his own skin-color issues in the predominantly Dominican neighborhood of Washington Heights in New York City.

Sometimes funny, often painful, Peralta saw first-hand – via his family, friends and society as a whole – how people process images connected with one’s physical appearance to make judgments on another person’s worth or on standards of beauty and attractiveness.

“These racial issues were with me as a child growing up and are still with me as a grown man,” says Peralta, 35, whom everyone calls Tony.  While taking film classes in college, he wrote a short script called “The So-Called Ugly Duckling,” about a boy growing up in a family where he looked noticeably different from other family members.  “These issues affect people of color on a global level.  It is hard to believe that the effects of slavery and colonialism are still with us in 2011.”

Check out these short videos with two Dominicans speaking on their experiences as Black Latino’s.

Complejo – M. Tony Peralta art exhibit from Ruben Henriquez on Vimeo.

Complejo – M. Tony Peralta art exhibit from Ruben Henriquez on Vimeo.

To check out the exhibit, please view the information below:

The new work will be shown at the Northern Manhattan Arts Alliance (NoMAA) Gallery, 178 Bennett Avenue @ 189th Street, 3rd floor, in Washington Heights; 212-568-4396.  The opening reception for COMPLEJO will be held at the Gallery on Thursday, August 4th, from 6:00 – 8:00 pm (a private press preview will be held the day before).

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