University of Minnesota Morris
Home » News & Events » Estar in el Prairie Depicts Lives of Latino Population

Morris Campus News and Events

Estar in el Prairie Depicts Lives of Latino Population

Posted by Pengxeu Thao '15, Roseville on Wednesday, Nov. 27, 2013

Jordan Wente ’15, Dodge Center, and Natalie Hoidal ’15, Forest Lake, are leading an effort to photograph western Minnesota’s growing Latino population. The project, Estar in el Prairie, documents the lives of Latino community members in the area and brings them together with local photographers. Wente and Hoidal are using the photos to promote intercultural perspectives.

Wente and Hoidal first conceptualized the project over the summer of 2013. In September, they asked six area-photographers to take pictures of Latino community members holding signs written in English and Spanish. These signs provide a statement about the subjects and their lives, illustrating a sense of place and experience to be shared with others.

Oscar Baldelomar, assistant professor of psychology, along with his wife, Angie, and family. Photo by Ashley Dial '16, Monticello.

“One of the most important aspects of this project is to portray members of the Latino community as people with stories,” says Wente. “It shows that they are people with hopes, fears, and goals. People we can identify with.”

Because the Latino population in western Minnesota has grown more than 200 percent between 2000 and 2010, Wente and Hoidal believe that recognizing this community is more important than ever. They hope to soon have images from the project available for viewing, allowing students and community members to connect and find international solidarity.

"There are definitely people coming for just a few years to gain work experience and learn English, but there's a really large population that's coming here with their families and wants to settle permanently in Morris," says Hoidal. "The goal of this project is to create long-lasting relationships in the community."

For more information, please go to or email Wente and Hoidal.

Estar in el Prairie organizers Jordan Wente ’15, Dodge Center, and Natalie Hoidal ’15, Forest Lake.

Pictured top right: Paul Cortes and Keni Zenner. Photo by Nic McPhee.