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Cecilia Salcedo

Graphic Design Thesis Project - Abuela's Living Room

Abuela’s Living Room explores the relationship between music and memory within immigrant communities and the ways in which sound can trigger feelings of nostalgia, belonging, and joy. You are invited into my grandmother’s living room, where my own memories are stored and relived through the experience of salsa music.


I emigrated from Caracas, Venezuela in 2007 at the age of 9. Having been unable to return since immigrating has lead me to be creative about the ways that I can revisit my country in my mind. Salsa music is a reminder of the place I left behind; a way to cope with being displaced. This project is dedicated to my family; and to those worldwide who have been displaced from their homes. This project is dedicated to the Venezuelan Diaspora.

Pop-Up Records

The three pop-up records developed for the final outcomes are ones that stood out from my childhood and were important to the development of salsa as a genre of music. These three also had a big impact on music in Venezuela. I decided to use very similar visual language in each record, taking imagery from live performances for the interior pop-ups. The halftone quality and the dots used for the layers unify the records, creating a cohesive series. The covers and back covers are based on the original records, but I have redesigned parts to add to the cohesion. Each record contains a brief explanation of its impact in the salsa world on the back cover.

This record has been redesigned using original imagery from Celia & Johnny, an album by Celia Cruz and Johnny Pacheco released in 1974 by Fania Records.

Cassette Tapes

As part of the project, to include differing immigration narratives, 7 interviews were conducted, and assembled into cassette tapes. The interviews were edited and added to a mix of music that each participant provided. They were recorded onto cassette tapes with their own unique pattern design on them. The tracks were then handwritten onto the cassette label card.

Salsa Dancing Video

The video came from a need to show the dancing involved in the tradition of salsa and in my childhood. I recorded two videos, one of me dancing salsa tracks on my own, and one of my father and I dancing to salsa. These were then edited together to show the two most common and vulnerable scenarios when I dance to salsa. The video contains so audio, as there are two other audio components in the installation that will provide that aspect to the video. The video is 5min 58sec and plays on a loop on a CRT TV.

Additional Outcomes

To compliment the print and digital outcomes, a wallpaper was created to physically distinguish the space this installation would take up. It was inspired by Tiffany lamps my grandmother had in her house in Caracas, Venezuela growing up, as well as her love for bright warm colours and flowers.

A custom console/sideboard was also created to house the components of the installation. It was designed in collaboration with Daniel Antonucci, and built by Daniel Antonucci and Jasmin Liu.

Detail of wallpaper design.

Detail of custom furniture design.