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This fall I started an MFA in Social Practice at California College of the Arts, it has been a big departure from working full-time as an artist and having the freedom to create what ever I wish. Working within this new context is helping me think of new ways to explore themes that have been part of my work for some time now. This was the first project for my Social Practice Workshop and was part of a group exercise which took place on Market Street in San Francisco. My part took place at Market and Embarcadero, my aim was to start our walk with a ceremony to give thanks to the ancestors and acknowledge that we are on Ohlone land. I created two large format screen prints of Ohlone community members who have been part of contemporary social movements to defend Ohlone burial grounds. Along with the prints were two informational posters, one with some history about Ohlone people and their land base and a second with information about modern day land struggles that Ohlone's are facing.
Ohlone People Then…Ohlone People Still Here
This is not a public service announcement,, this is a challenge to your preconceived notions of where you stand. This is not the United States of America, this is Ohlone Land, and since time immemorial this has been Indian Land and it will always be. The landscape has changed over time, in the past 245 years the Ohlone villages that existed here have been replaced by cities. But the people have not been replaced they continue to exist. Ohlone songs continue to be sung, some songs as old as time, some as new as this mornings rising sun the people continue singing.
Images of Indigenous people in the media have stayed static for too long, society imagines Indigenous people as the stereotypical stoic Indian of yester year. But this is not the case, Indigenous people have changed with the times, today they wear jeans, t-shirts maybe a blazer and sneakers, sometimes they wear traditional clothes still with sneakers but more often with moccasins. There is no one-way to define what a contemporary Indigenous person looks like today, like the trickster they take many forms.
Today Ohlone people fight to protect their lands from desecration, fighting to stop the building of parking lots and shopping malls on burial grounds, fighting for Tribal recognition and to keep their languages alive. At the heart of this struggle are always ceremony, prayer and songs to give thanks to those who came before us and ask for strength to keep fighting.
 Slogan taken from graffiti painted during the occupation of Alcatraz that declared the Island to be Indian Land. This is a slogan that continues to be used today to affirm indigenous people’s right to
Over the years I have been fortunate to work with Malaquias Montoya, in 2004 I worked with him to reprint his 1982 "An Immigrants Dream, The American Response" for the Center for the Study of Political Graphics fundraising portfolio and last sprint he designed the poster for the Taller Tupac Amaru's 10th Anniversary exhibit. As a young print maker it is always an honor to work with him, being one of the founding artist of the Chican@ Art Movement and a master screen printer I look up to him and see him as a Mentor and good friend. This summer I had the opportunity to work with him again on a reprint of his 1972 poster for Jesus Treviños film "Yo Soy Chicano". This is a classic image of the Chican@ Movement and a important piece of our history. Malaquias was super generous and offered his art as a fundraiser for Xicana Mortorium Day in Oakland and to help me fundraise for my grad school tuition, this meant the world to me. It makes me feel invincible to have Malaquias stand with me in my journey through my MFA program which he has pushed me towards over the past few years.
I had a lot of help from my good friend Santiago Mazatl mixing colors.
The first two colors, matching the flesh color was a hard job, but that "Raza de Bronze" color is classic.
Three colors down...almost done.
DOWNLOAD PDF HERE 11"x 17" 31.MB Based on a photo by Heather Bozzone
Israel "Reefa" Hernandez, a street artist, was killed by police when they used a taser gun that electrocuted him and stopped his heart. He was killed because he scrawling graffiti on the wall of an abandoned McDonalds.
Viva Reefa, Viva Oscar, Viva Trayvon:: Paint is Temporary, Death is Permanent. #justiceforisraelhernandez #reefa #ripreefa
There are hunger strikes happening inside the concrete labyrinths of Pelican Bay (California) State Prison, Eloy Immigrant Detention Center in Arizona and Guantanamo Bay Detention Camp (U.S. Naval Base in Cuba).
These struggles echo each other in their call for human dignity. The people puppeteering the power structure do their best to keep people from seeing how these struggles are intertwined and love it when we embrace the wedges that are rammed between our communities. Don't believe their hype. (Mass incarceration, immigration policy and enforcement, and the rhetoric and policies of "Security" are intertwined.)
Sister Assata Shakur said it best:
"It is our duty to fight for our freedom.
It is our duty to win.
We must love each other and support each other.
We have nothing to lose but our chains.."
I am an abolitionist. These walls will fall.
Support the organizing efforts around each of these struggles:
The DREAM 9 http://
Guantanamo Bay Hunger Strike http://
Pelican Bay Hunger Strike http://
DignidadRebelde.com poster and print blowout sale! Everything is 25 % off. We are trying to sell work to help pay for my enrollment into graduate school where I'm preparing to step up how I serve my communities. I've been using my art to serve social justice struggles for the past 13 years. Please help support my next phase in life by finally buying that print you have been wishing for. Thanks!
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