Community building requires community healing. And what does that look like?

"Staying ‘home’ and not venturing out from our own group comes from woundedness, and stagnates our growth. To bridge means loosening our borders, not closing off to others….To bridge is to attempt community, and for that we must risk being open to personal, political, and spiritual intimacy, to risk being wounded."- Gloria Anzaldua

"Quedarse en la casa'' y no aventurarse fuera de nuestro propio grupo viene donde estamos heridos y proviene nuestro crecimiento. Para hacer puentes signifa que abriemos mas de nuestras fronteras y que no cierremos a otros… Para hacer puentes es intentar comunidad, y para eso tenemos que corre el riesgo de ser abierto a personal, político y espiritual intimidad, a correr el riesgo de ser heridos. "
Gloria Anzaldua

Everybody is waiting for the movement to happen ! And we dont realize we are the movement. Its me and you coming together and having some honest and maybe painful truthtelling between us. But there is probably some beautiful thing we will create together as a result. I want to speak to each person in my community.Let's get the party going.

Todo el mundo está esperando a que el movimiento a ocurrir! Y nosotros no darse cuenta de que somos el movimiento. Comienza la communidad cuando usted y yo tienemos algunos conversaciones doloroso pero verdarosos . Pero es probable que algunos bellos cosas que es probablemente vamos a crear juntos . Quiero hablar con cada person en mi communidad.Vamos a comienzar esta fiesta !

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Interview with Favianna Rodriguez

Cover of Reproduce and Revolt

By Liam O’Donoghue
Favianna Rodriguez is from Oakland and she lives there today. She is the co-editor, along with Josh MacPhee, of Reproduce and Revolt: A Graphic Toolbox for the 21st Century Activist (Soft Skull Press, 192 pages, $19.95). On the eve of the book's release party, she recently spoke about the project's origins, forging connections between groups and the Bay Area's role in activist art.
SFBG: Even in the socially conscious art world, it’s usually men who get the most spotlight.So, first of all, I want to give you props for raising the profile of so many radical womyn artists with this book. Can you tell me about any challenges or goals specifically related to gender issues that you had with this project?
Favianna Rodriguez: I’m a first generation woman of color. My parents were immigrants. So it was very important to me for the book to represent not just women, but women of color. We’ve got lots of artists from Mexico, Peru, Colombia and Argentina in this book. My co-editor, Josh MacPhee, is a white male – he’s cool, very anti-racist – but he understood that with a project like this, which involves getting global artists to submit royalty-free art, it was very important to have a woman of color in a leadership position. Of course, the political art world is male-dominated, so some of the sections, especially the “war and peace” chapter, were overwhelmingly male, and we really had to work on creating the balance of perspectives that we wanted [throughout the book].But women of color aren’t the only ones that are generally under-represented – black men are another example. This book is just the first phase. We’re just getting started, because we’ve got a good selection of Latin American artists [featured in the book], but we want to expand to include more Asian and African artists with the next editions. It’s all about building networks.
SFBG: What inspired you to start this project?
FR: Josh was collecting graphics and I’d been talking with Bay Area women artists about doing something like this, so we decided to merge our projects. I wanted to make it a multilingual project and I brought in tech people so we could make this all happen online. This book was totally compiled and edited online. We did artist authorization documents and design and had political discussions online. The book has over 300 images from 12 countries, and the Web site that will launch on July 1 is also going to be bilingual. It’s going to have all the graphics in high-resolution, available for download, because nobody wants to scan images anymore if they don’t have to.
SFBG: Did anything unexpected happen when you were pulling all this together?
FR: The massive amount of world wide support -- especially [the support from] Mexico -- was really unexpected. Also, the impact that [the book]'s having on people the first time they look through it is really exciting. This collection shows how a lot of social justice issues that are normally in their own silos really intersect. I mean, there are graphics that show how immigration and border issues relate to being gender-queer or trans. There are images that connect veganism and corporate exploitation. As a whole, you get a view of the vast diversity of artists approaching all these issues. The Black Power symbol with the clenched fist takes on a new meaning when it’s next to a vegan graphic. A lot of diverse issues are represented and I think even some of the artists themselves are challenged by some of these connections. As artists, we’re the voices of these movements, so we really need to ask ourselves what that means.
SFBG: How does the Bay Area fit into the global scene?
FR: So many Bay Area artists contributed that we really make up a significant chunk of the book. In the Bay Area, visual graphics have played a big role in radical movements like the Black Panthers and Chicano struggles. Plus, there are local collectors, like Michael Rossman, who just passed away, who really helped keep those strong artistic traditions alive. California has such a great intersection of people – immigrants, food justice activists, the LGBTQ community, white artists who have a developed sense of white privilege and anti-racist perspectives – that we’re living in artistically fertile territory.
SFBG: Do you feel like the Bay Area contributors have a common style or theme that makes it obvious where they’re from?
FR: No, everybody is so different and it’s not like you can tell by looking at the issues they focus on. A lot of graphics supporting Palestine or the Zapatistas, for example, come from US artists. A lot of the graphics focusing on global trade are from Mexico and Central America, so you can’t tell by looking at an image where it’s from. We wanted the graphics to be very universal, so we stayed away from stuff about Bush or specific administrations, because they would get dated so quickly. We wanted to deal with the big issues that our generation is tackling, like corporate influence, water and resource justice, food activism and genetically-modified crops, privatization of prisons, immigration policy and media justice.
SFBG: What’s going to be happening at the release party?
FR: The San Francisco Print collective is going to be doing live print-making, which is key, because it can be hard to get people engaged with visual art. I mean, we’ve got a huge concentration of dance ensembles, for example, in the Bay, but it’s rarer to see groups of artists working together. I was born and raised in Oakland, and I want people from other places to know that they can be doing what we’re doing. The SF Print Collective and groups like JustSeeds exemplify what I like to see, which is artists working in collectives and engaging each other and their communities.These graphics can be used to mobilize people. Teachers and union organizers are using some of the graphics from the book already. Some of the images from the book were turned into posters for this year’s immigrants’ rights marches. There’s huge potential in open source art.
SFBG: You've said “Historically, political graphics in movements throughout the world have shaped our society. One of the languages of liberation is art and design.” Is that essentially what this book is about?
FR: The book is subtitled “A Graphic Toolbox for the 21st Century Activist,” but it’s really about building connections between different networks. There needs to be community and accountability attached to these images. Just because some kid has a Che poster doesn’t mean he’s going to act against the Cuban embargo. Some kid doing anti-Bush posters alone isn’t going to make a real difference. You need groups to have real social power. Look at images from Paris ’68 or the Black Panthers: the power of those images came from the power of the people, the movements. Images alone aren’t transformative; you need education and commitment to transformation.

From Posted by Johnny Ray Huston on June 11, 2008 05:25 PM

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