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  • Writer's pictureBeth Waterman

Its A Man's World | Consuelo - Welder | Indiana Portrait Photographer

Being a woman in this day and age is tough, tougher than most think. We are expected to look amazing at all times, be a friend, a spouse, a parent, and still manage to run our own businesses and hold down full time jobs. Being a woman who works in a male dominated field? Even harder!

One of the hardest challenges I have had to overcome personally is being in a world that is dominated by men. No, I don't mean photography believe it or not, I actually mean the automotive world. I have been involved in the custom truck scene since the 90's and its never been easy to gain respect.

So my goal for 2020 was to highlight as many women who are kicking butt in a male driven world right along with me. I sure hope you enjoy this series as much as I have enjoyed creating it!

In today's blog, I wanted to highlight a woman I met through this project. Consuelo is in a field near and dear to my heart, welding! Not only is she a phenomenal welder, but she founded the Latinas Welding Guild in order to help women in the Latino community develop skills to sustain their families. She is such an artist and truly hope you enjoy getting to know her.

How did you get started in this field Consuelo?

"When I was going to Kendall College of Art and Design for my BFA in Functional Art, I had a project that required me to use a medium I wasn't familiar with. So I decided to try metal and fell in love because of how more forgiving it was than wood working. After Kendall I looked into additional education opportunities and found out that I qualified for some funding to go back to school. So I decided to jump into Welding and Fabricating. From personal experience I saw the need for women to get into the field but also all the opportunities that came with it was amazing. I had lots of support every turn I made and I wanted to try to find a way to get more women and Latinas into the field. I wanted to show them that anything is possible and that they have support throughout the whole journey."

What Challenges do you face in this field as a woman?

""Proving" our skills, knowledge, and positive outcomes just to try to get financial support has been a challenge because we may be a "risk". There may still be some businesses or organizations in the industry that see us and may not take us seriously or assume we're a cute art group. Which we have to continuously validate what we're doing but that fuels the work we do. We pride ourselves on having a safe space for learning and that we've been able to get so many women into our classes."

How long have you been a welder?

"I've been welding for 7 years off and on."

Where do you find your inspiration & motivation?

"I'm constantly trying to find ways to connect to my heritage but also seeing the struggle that Latinas face everyday has been a large reason for it. I am always looking at Guatemalan weavings as inspiration for my functional pieces and outdoor pieces that I want to create.

Unfortunately, Latinas aren't really encouraged to do any "manual" labor type of work or to try new things. Every person deserves the opportunity to have a better quality of life and education. So if I can help be the voice for those who are too afraid or don't know where to turn too than I will be."

As a little girl, did you see yourself in this field?

"I've never once thought about welding as I was a child, but I always knew I wanted to do something big. As a born artist I wanted to have my own studio where I could design and produce large amounts of my work. I feel like I'm getting closer and closer to my end goal."

Who do you look up to in the industry, and why?

"I really admire a couple of my guy friends who are welders. Charles House, CWI at Ivy Tech, and Jonathan Garmany, CWI at Arsenal Tech. Both of them have always been supportive of me and always willing to help. If it weren't for them helping me, mentoring me and just willing to listen I'm not sure if I would've been able to get the progress I've made as quickly."

If you could pass on any words of wisdom to other women who are interested in the tattoo industry, what would you say?

"Don't listen to the people who tell you you can't, it's too dirty, too hot, to much heavy lifting or because it's not "lady like"! "Welding" knows no race, no gender, no sexual preference or orientation... which means anyone can do it. Where there's a will there's a way."

Tell me about your non-profit, The Latinas Welding Guild.

"I'm the Executive Director for the Latinas Welding Guild and we focus on empowering women through welding. Our big picture / long term goal is to have a space of our own cultural makerspace where we can incubate the women who want to start businesses until they're ready to launch their products."

If you are interested in contributing to the Latinas Welding Guild, they are always looking for support, help, and of course friends to help spread more information! For more information on the Guild, please visit their site!

Portait Photographer: Beth Waterman Photography

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