Share the Mic: Printing and Activism in Los Angeles
Since 1973, Self Help Graphics & Art (SHG) has produced more than 2,000 art print editions and exhibitions all over the world. The organization remains dedicated to the production, interpretation, and distribution of prints and other art media by Chicana/o and Latinx artists; and continues to empower LA’s artistic community by providing access to working space, tools, and training. Thanks to this essential arts organization’s investment in community over the past 50 years, Los Angeles has witnessed the organic development of a vanguard of professional creatives from marginalized communities who utilize the art of printing to produce eye-catching and provocative calls to action in support of social justice movements and revolutions.
As a complement to our current exhibition, Aboriginal Screen Printed Textiles from Australia’s Top End, the Fowler and SHG are proud to co-present a program exploring the dynamic intersection of printing and activism in Los Angeles and the role of artists as community leaders. Join us for a conversation, moderated by CalTech’s Visual Culture and Social Sciences instructor J.V. Decemvirale, with Carol A. Wells, founder of the Center for the Study of Political Graphics in Culver City, and artists Miyo Stevens-Gandara, Dewey Tafoya, and Ernesto Yerena Montejano.
J.V. Decemvirale is the Weisman Postdoctoral Instructor in Visual Culture and the Presidential Postdoctoral Fellow in the Division of Humanities and Social Sciences at the California Institute of Technology. An Angeleno of Italian and Peruvian descent, he focuses his research on the art histories of people of color in Los Angeles. Decemvirale’s writings on LA arts activism and community art spaces can be found online at: Smithsonian American Art Museum blog, Artsy, and Smarthistory.
Miyo Stevens-Gandara is an LA-based artist working in various media, including photography, drawing, embroidery, and printmaking. Her imagery explores issues of ancestry, migration, feminism, cultural identity, and environmental degradation. She received her BFA from the California College of the Arts, and MFA from the California Institute of the Arts. Stevens-Gandara’s work can be found in the collections of LACMA, Museum of Latin American Art, Riverside Art Museum, and private collections in the US and internationally.
Dewey Tafoya is master printer & assistant director of the Professional Printmaking Program at Self Help Graphics & Art (SHG). Influenced by his local community, he uses symbols and imagery connected to the urban landscape, Chicanx culture, and indigenous civilizations to critique, deconstruct, and rebuild historical narratives. Tafoya’s work has been exhibited throughout Southern California, including at LACMA. He has been sharing his knowledge with youth and young adults as a teaching artist with ArtworxLA, SHG’s Barrio Mobile Art Studio, and SOY Artista summer program.
Ernesto Yerena Montejano was born in El Centro, CA, a farming town bordering Mexicali, BC, MX. Fueled by his cross-national upbringing, his art practice reflects his observations of the views and interactions between Mexican communities living on both sides of the US-Mexico border. In 2008, Yerena created Hecho Con Ganas, which produces politically and socially conscious images in limited edition silkscreen prints. Highly esteemed for his activism, Yerena is founder and curator of the Alto Arizona Art campaign (2010) and a founding member of the We Are Human campaign (2009).
Carol A. Wells is an activist, art historian, curator, writer, and poster collector. She received both her BA in history and MA in art history from UCLA. In 1988, she founded Center for the Study of Political Graphics, an activist, educational, and research archive in LA. The center’s more than 90,000 social movement posters from the 19th century to the present include the largest collection of post-WWII posters in the US. Wells believes that posters can combat public apathy and feelings of helplessness, as well as stimulate political debate.
Share the Mic
We at the Fowler believe in the civic duty of museums to give forum to multiple points of view. This series features thought leaders—artists, activists, and allies—who are guiding us along the arc of justice.
Image credit: Miyo Stevens-Gandara, Little Tokyo Noren. Image courtesy the artist.