Dominican Pin-Ups ‘de Pura Cepa’

Attendees themselves came to “Pin-Up de Pura Cepa” in pin-up style. (Photo by Rubén Henríquez via Manhattan Times)

A photograph exhibit in Upper Manhattan has been splashing a bit of 1950s and 1960s flair into APT78. The Washington Heights lounge is displaying photos of diverse Dominican women in pin-up clothing, attire popular during the time period.

Reporter Sandra García wrote about the “Pin-Up de Pura Cepa” exhibit for Manhattan Times, mentioning that “de Pura Cepa,” refers to “pure-bred” or “from the core.” The collection features the work of Dominican-Ukrainian photographer, Alina Vargas. Women of different colors and sizes pose amidst the vibrant hues of their clothing, accessories and make-up.

There’s a woman on a motoconcho [a small motorbike], and one with a tambora. One woman holds aloft a cigar; another woman is surrounded by tubers she will soon be grating.

“Dominican culture is very rich in symbols and humor,” explained photographer Alina Vargas. “[This] was a new way of portraying people, but most of all, women. And women these days, we want it all.”

Vargas owns the only studio in the Dominican Republic focused on pin-up photography.

And she likes to use regular women, not models, for her pieces.

“This is a visual celebration of the variety of Dominican beauty and culture. Using regular women as models, the statement becomes clear: Beauty comes in all sizes, shapes and colors,” said Vargas.

“The photos are very feminine and elegant, but still very sexy,” said Desiree Browne, dressed in pin-up style. (Photo by Rubén Henríquez via Manhattan Times)

The exhibit opened in New York in early March. Its host, Tony Peralta emphasized the significance of the work to Washington Heights: “Dominicans in New York have their own perception of how we are in the Dominican Republic, but [we] are multitalented people. It’s important to see Latinas of different sizes and shades.”

Vargas herself reflects the diversity that Peralta mentions. With a Ukrainian mother and a Dominican father, the Moscow-born photographer left Kiev, Ukraine with her family in 1993 and moved to the Dominican Republic, where she lives now.

“’Pin-Up de Pura Cepa’ is a visual poem to the beauty of Dominican women,” said Vargas. “No matter the size, no matter the color.”

According to Latino Life, the exhibit will continue until the closing reception on April 13, 2013 at 1 p.m. View photos of the exhibit via Facebook.

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