Meet Our Team
Elvira Aballi Morell
Elvira Aballí is a writer and a public and digital humanist. Currently, she is a National Endowment for the Humanities postdoctoral fellow specializing in Latin American and Caribbean literature and LatinX studies. She received her BA from the Universidad de la Habana and her doctorate from Vanderbilt University. Her work as a research assistant in the Slave Societies Digital Archive (SSDA), as an interpreter for the Vanderbilt University School of Law's Immigration Practice Clinic ("IPC"), and as a community volunteer with Children of Hispanic Immigrants Collaborating to Overcome Stress (CHICOS) inspired her to create the digital project ContArte Latinoamérica (CAL) —in collaboration with the Digital Humanities Center at Vanderbilt. CAL is a searchable database of selected artworks made by LatinX artists. The first online exhibition was “Connections” by Marcela Castaño, from which was born the idea of developing HEART. CAL will include all the art pieces resulting from our Language and Textile Art workshop.
Vladimir S. Betancur Bedoya
Vladimir Betancur is an enthusiastic English as a Second Language teacher with a Master’s Degree in Educational Leadership. He works as the coordinator at the Intensive English Center (IEC) at Tennessee State University (TSU), where he develops curriculum, plans events, and excursions for international students that come to study English. He comes from Medellín, Colombia, where he completed his B.A. in Education and served for over twelve years as an English as a Foreign Language instructor. In Fall 2015, Vladimir enrolled in TSU to complete his master’s degree, and he was offered the position at the IEC when he graduated in 2017. He has been actively participating in different projects and programs with the LatinX community to help them improve their language skills in order to adapt better to their new lifestyles.
Marcela Castaño Vélez
Marcela Castaño is a Colombian textile artist based in Nashville since 2015. Her works include handmade tapestries, looms, and decorative implements; her artistic career began in Medellín, Colombia, in the early 1990s. She complemented her passion for creating art with a degree in industrial design and her hobby of writing. She has participated in personal and collective exhibits in Nashville as well as art fairs across the state, and virtual exhibits in different countries. Her motivation to work with people has taken her to volunteer in several educational activities with Tennessee Craft Art and NGOs for the LatinX community in Nashville, which have given her the expertise and knowledge to manage and coordinate the artistic motivational, and instructional part of this project.