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If you are want to see some of the hottest artwork by artists from around the country who are dealing with the subjects of immigration, xenophobia, borders, and pro-migrant activism - then DON'T MISS the 1-day only show in Los Angeles, California - this Friday, July 29th @ 6 pm.
A Pro-Migrant Art Exhibit
Friday, July 29, 2011, Starting @ 6 pm
SEIU - 828 West Washington Boulevard Los Angeles, CA 90015-3310.
This Friday, The Sound Strike is organizing a Boycott Hatred Benefit Concert to benefit grassroots organizations in Arizona. This event will bring the LA community together with art, live music, a panel discussion, food and local vendors with the purpose of raising awareness and strengthening to pro-migrant movement.
The exhibit will open at 6 pm, and features an array of designers, street artists, painters, printmakers, and photographers. The artists include: Lalo Alcaraz, Hertz Alegrio, Steve Alfaro, Santiago Armengod, Rafael Cardenas, Ozzie Carmona, Jesus Barraza & Melanie Cervantes of Dignidad Rebelde, Juan Luis Garcia, Jon Garza, Art Hazelwood, Ray Hernandez, lapiztola oaxaca, Ricardo Levins Morales, Aaron Andrew Martin, Cesar Maxit, Doug Minkler, Mokhtar P99, Diane Ovalle, Favianna Rodriguez, Erik Ruin, Julio Salgado, Victor Sepulveda, Dewey Tafoya, Manny Torres, Justin Valas, Mark Vallen, Russell Varner, Ernesto Vasquez, Ernesto Yerena.
I will be working on a special installation throughout the exhibit, so be there on time to see the work evolve into the final piece.
To get more details about the event, click here. Special thanks to Reed Rickert for his video editing skills.
Chavela Vargas is a Mexican legend of rancheras and for my abuelita she was her siren of choice. Born in Costa Rica but claimed by most Mexicans she has been openly lesbian and is even known to have had a relationship with artist Frida Kahlo. Chavela once said: “I didn't attend lesbian classes. No one taught me to be this way. I was born this way, from the moment I opened my eyes in this world. I've never been to bed with a man. Never. That's how pure I am; I have nothing to be ashamed of. My gods made me the way I am.” She appears in Salma Hayek’s Frida film as a singer in a cantina and accompanies another favorite singer of mine, Lila Downs, who also appears and sings in the film.
Though my abuela and I both love Chavela belting out with passion songs of love and pain, I don’t remember hearing the music when I visited. I came to be a fan much later in life when I was in college. I remember being so excited when Chavela performed at Carnegie Hall in 2003. The recognition and platform was long overdue.
This is the fourth in a series of women singers who inspire me.Order a print by clicking here $100
"We know through painful experience that freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed."-Martin Luther King, Jr., April 16, 1963, Letter From Birmingham City Jail
In a more recent communication a good friend, a freedom fighter wrote, via email, another poignant message:
"I stand with all my brothers still on hunger strike inside the SHUs at Pelican Bay, Corcoran, and all the mainlines in Centinela, Folsom, and all other prisoners throughout California and the nation in solidarity with the hunger strike. Imagine being caged up alone for 23 hours a day in a 6x10 concrete chamber….Imagine that the only human contact in the last 10, 15 years is that of guards putting shackles on you, or a vague recollection of someone who told you she was from the medical field…Imagine if you have not seen, or talked to another African-American person in months, years, or even decades. These brothers are not asking to be released. They are demanding their human rights. They are demanding an end to torture."
He asked that I help spread the word about the indefinate hunger strike that started at Pelican Bay but which has spread to other prisons and folks inside and outside standing in solidarity with those in Pelican Bay. He inspired me to create a downloadable poster to spread the word.
Prisoners in the Security Housing Unit (SHU) at Pelican Bay State Prison (California) are going on an indefinite hunger strike as of July 1, 2011 to protest the cruel, inhumane and tortuous conditions of their imprisonment. The hunger strike has been organized by prisoners in an inspiring show of unity across prison-manufactured racial and geographical lines. The hunger strikers have developed these five core demands:
1. End Group Punishment & Administrative Abuse – This is in response to PBSP’s application of “group punishment” as a means to address individual inmates rule violations. This includes the administration’s abusive, pretextual use of “safety and concern” to justify what are unnecessary punitive acts. This policy has been applied in the context of justifying indefinite SHU status, and progressively restricting our programming and privileges.
2. Abolish the Debriefing Policy, and Modify Active/Inactive Gang Status Criteria -
3. Comply with the US Commission on Safety and Abuse in America’s Prisons 2006 Recommendations Regarding an End to Long-Term Solitary Confinement – CDCR shall implement the findings and recommendations of the US commission on safety and abuse in America’s prisons final 2006 report regarding CDCR SHU facilities as follows:
4. Provide Adequate and Nutritious Food – cease the practice of denying adequate food, and provide a wholesome nutritional meals including special diet meals, and allow inmates to purchase additional vitamin supplements.
5. Expand and Provide Constructive Programming and Privileges for Indefinite SHU Status Inmates.
NOTE: The above examples of programs/privileges are all similar to what is allowed in other Supermax prisons (eg, Federal Florence, Colorado, and Ohio), which supports our position that CDCR-PBSP staff claims that such are a threat to safety and security are exaggerations.
For more information and to follow the updates about the hunger strike please visit: http://prisonerhungerstrikesolidarity.wordpress.com
Vilma Espin Guillois Presente!
Most people know the names and faces Cuban revolutionaries Ernesto “Che”Guevara and Fidel Castro but I would bet if you ask these same people about the women who were instrumental in the Cuban Revolution they would respond with a blank stare. The leadership women provide to revolutionary movements is often invisiblized so I wanted to bring it to the surface. This portrait of Vilma Espin is the first, in what I hope are many, portraits of revolutionary women.
“Vilma Espin was brought up in Santiago in eastern Cuba as a privileged girl. Her father was an executive at the Bacardi rum company, which was based in Santiago at the time. An exceptional student, she earned a degree in chemical engineering and went on to MIT for graduate study. Along the way, however, she got caught up in the movement against Cuban dictator Fulgencio Batista. On a trip back to Cuba in 1956, she linked up with Fidel and Raul Castro in Mexico, where they were preparing for their revolution. She joined their cause, fought alongside them in the Cuban mountains, and helped lead an underground movement in her hometown of Santiago.
Never a woman to defer to her male counterparts, Vilma Espin became known within the movement for her uncompromising positions. As a fluent English speaker, she also served on occasion as an intermediary between the revolution’s leaders and U.S. officials who were monitoring the movement. After the revolution, she married Raul and went on to become one of the top officials of the Cuban Communist Party, as well as the president of the Federation of Cuban Women.”
“Under Vilma Espín’s leadership, the Federation of Cuban Women encouraged and organized millions of women to break their chains and demand full equality in everything from employment to reproductive rights. Today, as just one measure of their success, 65 percent of Cuba’s college graduates are women.”
Purchase a print by clicking here
Photography, like painting and printmaking, has always attracted my attention. But like most art forms my relationship to the form had always been as a spectator. Watching movies like Oliver Stone’s “El Salvador” which tells the story of the Salvadorian brutal civil war through the eyes of a photojournalist made me conscious of the important role photo documentation could play in the world. There were also photographers like Tina Modotti (a friend and contemporary of Frida Kahlo) whose photo “Bandolier, Corn, Sickle” cleverly mixed the utilitarian tools of Mexican campesinos with communist party emblems appeared before my eyes as the cover of Rage Against the Machine’s “People of the Sun” album. Modotti’s photos made the hairs on the back of my neck stand on end.
This January, after many years of fantasizing about what it might be like to get behind the lens, I jumped into it and bought myself a Canon Rebel T2i(that’s for the camera nerds who always ask and want to know what you are shooting with). I am still learning all the basics: what aperture is, the differences between lenses, lighting and so on. Though I am still a novice it’s been a wonderful, thrilling and addicting experience. There is a little voice in my head repeating “Get the shot, get the shot” and I find myself climbing onto parked trucks during migrant justice marches or laying stomach to the ground to get just the right perspective of the children in San Francisco at the rally in solidarity with North African countries struggling to autonomy and true democracy. It’s intoxicating.
In the few months that I have been shooting I have had my first photos published. I documented as much as I could of a rally of folks opposed to racial profiling and the markers of oncoming gentrification that come with gang injunctions. The ACLU of Northern California published two of my photos in their annual report.
The rallies, actions and events of grassroots organizations and community efforts are what call me most. In fact I used the photos from the same rally in Oakland to create a campaign poster for the Stop the Injunctions Coalition. This has allowed me to marry the thrill of photography with my ongoing experiments with design and illustration. This intersection is what I would like to develop with more intention and purpose as I continue to go after the shot.
See more photos here:http://www.flickr.com/photos/dignidadrebelde/
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