© Tania Fernandez Beginners Walking Course, 2006

Tania Fernandez, Academia de Refinamiento

October 1 – November 2, 2006
Opening Reception: Sunday, October 1
Artist Talk: Tuesday, October 3

Seventh & Second Photo Gallery
Middle Collegiate Church
50 East 7th Street at 2nd Avenue
New York, NY 10003

Curatorial Statement: Academias de Refinamiento, or finishing schools, are an integral part of Puerto Rican society, and have existed throughout the island since the 80s. Girls as young as five years old through eighteen are sent through various vigorous courses of etiquette in order to achieve the goal of becoming a woman who is confident, graceful, charming, that always radiates beauty no matter what financial, personal, or career circumstances they are in at any time. The goals of these schools are universal, to create a “refined” woman. Fernandez has been capturing this process in Puerto Rico since 2005. However, she poses the question, “Is that necessarily true?”

Do classes in walking, posture, talking, fundamentals of style, makeup, and social etiquette really make you an ideal Latina, or does it continue to entertain the ideal of what femininity should be through the male perspective, media, or society? Tania Fernandez’s photo-documentary, Academia de Refinamiento, explores the process of young girls and teens that strive to embody these ideals. — Leenda Bonilla, Curatorial Assistant