As part of the Taller Tupac Amaru’s 10th Anniversary Empujando Tinta exhibit at the Galeria de la Raza we decided to publish prints by various artists in the community including Malaquias Montoya who designed the poster for the exhibit and Nancy Hom whose design we printed to promote this years Carnaval. For the closing of these exhibit we invited three artists to collaborate with us and produce a limited edition screen print. These three artists are, Viviana “Viva” Paredes, Favianna Rodriguez and Rio Yañez. Favianna is a member of the Taller and I have worked on numerous prints with her, but this was the first time we had the opportunity to work with Viva and Rio whose work Melanie and I have admired for years.
Viva’s works mainly with glass sculptures which deals with issues of curanderismo and sacred medicines, her bio mentions “Viviana continues her grandmother’s tradition of healing by creating artwork that explores the sacred space of ancestral memory, culture, and linguistic history”. In the past we have seen work in a couple galleries and fell in love with the way she used traditional objects and medicines as part of her art to show the importance of these things in our culture and show how these objects are sacred when used in everyday life or as art objects.
Viva’s print deals with issues of migration and death, dealing specifically with the women who die in the desert while crossing into the United States. Viva uses the maguey as the lone witness to women who die alone in the dessert, with a wound itself the maguey also represents these women. Around the border of the print there are also names and ages of women who have passed away while attempting to cross the dessert. This is a very moving print, it deals with a very sad issue. but it is a very beautiful piece that pays tribute the women who are named as well as all those whose names will never be known.
This collaboration was a lot of fun and inspiring, this is Viva’s second screen print and I felt honored to be able to work with her and be able to walk her through the process of taking her sketches and transforming them into drawings used in this print. With her drawings completed I helped digitize everything and create separations, once the mock ups were completed and approved Viva joined me in the studio to pick her colors and mix up the inks. Most of the print was completed in the studio, but we left a part of the edition to print at the closing of the exhibit. I was inspired by Maestro Arturo Negrete’s Taller en Vida at his studio 75 Grados in Mexico city, where he invites artists to produce a print at his studio and complete the last color of the print and sign the edition at an event where people can come and see a little of the work that goes into the printing process. Melanie printed these at the Galeria during the closing and even pulled a few with Viva to get us all involved in the process.
Me and Viva with the finished print. | Melanie printing the last color on Viva’s print.
Rio’s print is part of a series of pieces that I fell in love with back when he did a digital billboard at the Galeria de la Raza a few years back, when I asked him to participate in the project I asked him if he could reprise his Ghetto Frida for this screen print. I like Rio’s Frida images because it takes her and puts her in a modern setting along with Diego and all their drama as well as creating a whole back story that was told in comic book form in the Galeria billboard. I also had the opportunity to catch a live production of a piece he wrote, an interview of the infamous Ghetto Frida (played by Shay Rivera at the NALAC Leadership Institute in 2012). For me Rio puts Frida in a modern context that connects to her actual life story of being a bad ass and a political being.
This piece was printed completely at the Taller with Rio there to help with the process, helping pick and mix the colors used. We had some help from Karla Gomez-Pelayo who helped me a few times over the summer to learn more about the printing process. It was a lot of fun in the studio, it was a super hot summer day but we made the best to it.
Here is what Rio wrote about the piece: Ghetto Frida: The Ouroboros is a nostalgia piece dedicated to 90’s culture in the Mission District. Front and center is a bootleg Bart Simpson t-shirt, to me the most universal signifier of youth culture in the neighborhood in the early 90’s. An era where countless stores lined Mission street displaying these bootleg Bart shirts on their awnings as if they were patriotic flags. The lyrics used in the scroll are from Ahmad’s “Back in the Day” the greatest sentimental hip-hop song of all time.
I have printed many of Favianna’s prints over the past 12 years, I wanted to work with her on this project because she was the first artist whose work I printed back in my days working at Mission Grafica. I have a lot fun working with Favianna, over the years we’ve developed a great working relationship and printing her work feels like printing my own art. Favianna has many styles when it comes to her work for graphic high contrast posters to abstract prints, each has their own flavor, for this project she produced a piece of an abstracted little chicken with a some cool textured backgrounds on some bright yellow paper. Like Viva’s print, most of it was printed at the studio but was finished at the closing of the exhibit at the Galeria.