The Palabra Series was born out of my organizing at UCLA. The inspiration behind the series is twofold: first, it is an offering to our elders whose activism has often been forgotten or erased in our larger imaginary, it is an act of remembrance. Womxn before us have built a foundation for many of the social movements we take part in today. Secondly, I wanted to create the images I myself wish I could have grown up with.
The Revolutionary Love Note series is about heartbreak and self-love. Whereas the Palabra Series dealt with those figures that influenced my political consciousness and activism, this series honors those who have helped me heal. The vision for this series is jus that, to remind others that we all go through this pain and that it can be a time for self-reflection and affirmation. As the series has progressed, I’ve realized that it builds on the creative practices of Frida Kahlo and Nina Simone—they didn’t hide their sadness. They were vulnerable and allowed others to see inside. To me, that is incredibly powerful and revolutionary. In activist spaces you often come up against a lot of hostility for those who dare to be soft. Healing ourselves, especially those of us who are often told we are unloveable, is as radical as it gets for me.
I was selected as the poster artist for the UCLA Labor Center’s 2017 banquet. The event, was a fundraiser to celebrate the movement for worker justice in Los Angeles. The center helps advance worker rights, has recruited a new generation of young leaders into the labor movement, and has fought for economic justice and against wage theft.
This image was originally made as a commission for Autostraddle’s “Queer Latinx Series.” I made it with my queer kin in Orlando weighing heavy on my heart. The Pulse shooting in Florida, was a deadly reminder that the intersection of queer and Latinx is a dangerous one. For those of who identify this way, the dance floor is often the only escape, the only space where our bodies feel free. So many of our own are not with us because of the way society criminalizes brown and black bodies, and yet we keep fighting. I wanted to remember just as the Mexican proverb tells: “they tried to bury us, but they forgot we were seeds.” We will always bloom, as long as we have each other.
This print, titled “1-800-PAY-A-FEMME” is part of the 1st Queer Latina focused printmaking atelier at the long-standing printmaking studio Self-Help Graphics in East Los Angeles. Led by artist Dalila Mendez, the atelier seeks to uplift the voices and work of contemporary queer Chicana and Latinx artists. This print was made as a response to the increasing demand by women of color and queer femmes of valuing gendered labor such as emotional labor, and linking it to the ways in which patriarchal notions of work render the emotional labor in society invisible and unworthy of compensation. According to Leah Fessler, “the term emotional labor was originally coined by sociologist Arlie Hochschild in the 1983 book The Managed Heart: Commercialization of Human Feeling, her description of the need for workers to regulate their emotions (so to satisfy their customers)” The labor of managing emotions falls disproportionately on women and femmes. I wanted to bring awareness to this, and in this piece imagined a hotline aptly titled “1-800-PAY-A-FEMME” where dialing the number leads the caller to be confronted with a way to pay the queer women of color who have done emotional labor for them. As Alicia Grandey explains, emotional labor “Is tied to your wages and outcomes, and if you don’t do it, there are consequences.” Often, the consequences for women and femmes of color when they refuse to do this labor in their workplace and public life, are negative and more severe than their male counterparts. This piece imagines, what would it look like, if we could 1-800-PAY-A-FEMME?
I was invited to produce two banners for the 2018 Los Angeles Unified School District teachers strike. The United Teachers of Los Angeles commissioned the work. I also participated in an art build event December 7th, 8th and 9th. This was a collaboration with the National Education Association, Just Seeds, Trust Your Struggle and Self Help Graphics. The Art Build took place at: SPARC (Social and Public Art Resource Center) that was established in Venice, California in 1976 by Judy Baca. The event brought together 700-plus people to create art for the December 15th March for Public Education in downtown Los Angeles (10:00am at Grant Park) and to provide strike ready art (picket signs, banners, posters, and parachute banners) for future actions.
The Elders Series honors figures that I consider to be political elders, folks whose lifelong activism serves as a model for doing work that matters, beyond youth and beyond a single-issue. Each elder is adorned with flowers, as a sign of respect and honor for their commitment to social justice.
July 6th marks the birth of one of Mexico's most beloved treasures and just overall badasses, painter Frida Kahlo. Growing up, I would hear stories from my painting maestra/tía Elvira about Frida's life full of color, pain and fearlessness.Many of us creative, weird little girls saw her and felt brave enough to paint our own reality.