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Ariana Martinez-Cruz, 35, fiber, textile and embroidery artist, is the new R.A.I.C.E.S art fellow for Galería De La Raza. Photo: Alexa “LexMex” Trevino

Name: Ariana Martinez-Cruz 

Alias: Sew Frisco 

Age: 35 

Occupation: Embroidery & Fiber Artist, Costume Designer & Owner/operator of our family cleaning business with my partner Victor Cruz 

Hometown: San Francisco 

How would you describe your art?  

Memories and or statements brought to life through intentionally sourced layers of fabrics, thread, and beadwork. My artwork can be placed on your wall or on your favorite jacket. It also can be worn in motion and tell a story through music and dance. 

What inspired you to apply to R.A.I.C.E.S? 

During the pandemic, we have prioritized ensuring the survival of my family’s cleaning business, which has run for over 30 years. I did my best to do both — run a creative business, sell my wearable art and book as much work to keep our cleaning business sustainable. It is a hard task on both ends and ultimately my art and the creative energy that runs through me suffered. Applying to R.A.I.C.E.S. was the first step I took to reconnect to what I love to do which is create. 

How has the fellowship changed the art you create? And the way you make art?

The biggest change the fellowship has brought to my art is the ability to create without the stress of creating under a profit deadline. At the moment there is a very free approach to what I am creating, where my mind is exploring what fabrics, threads and colors I am working with.

What does it mean to you to have the opportunity to work as a full-time artist? 

Creating as a full-time artist is a major stepping stone of success. It feels the hours of dedication to my family’s business have rebalanced into what I am truly passionate about. The pride in my partner’s eyes, my kids and my dad’s brings an even stronger feeling of accomplishment. 

What do you envision for your future as an artist?

The future is filled with more moments of inspiration, many different colors, textures of fabrics, beads and thread. It will have intentionally crafted wearable art displays as well as space to share the creative knowledge I have with others who want to learn.

Calixto Robles, 65, painter, printmaker and ceramic sculptor, is the new R.A.I.C.E.S art fellow for the Mission Cultural Center for Latino Arts. Courtesy: Mission Cultural Center for Latino Arts

Name: Calixto Robles

Age: 65 Years Old

Instagram: @calixto.robles

Occupation: Painter, Printmaker, Ceramic Sculptor

Hometown: Oaxaca, Oaxaca, México

How would you describe your art?

I use my art to communicate positive messages to my communities and other communities. I want the viewer to feel at peace and connected with the world. I have many bodies of work. I consider some of my art as figurative from the Oaxaca Magic Surrealist School. Another important body of work is my political posters. I make them to connect and inform the public about current political issues, especially those affecting LatinX and indigenous people and Mother Earth (climate). I also want to represent people of color in all my artwork.

What inspired you to apply for the RAICES grant?

I was inspired because I want to connect and inform people about current events and issues. I also have a deep connection with MCCLA because it is where I learned screen printing when I arrived as a young immigrant and have been collaborating with MCCLA for over thirty years. 

How has the fellowship changed the art you create? And the way you make art?

It is wonderful to have access to Grafica for an extended time to focus on the creation of a new body of art. The financial support allows me to have more time to work on my artwork and try new things and risks. It has given me confidence that my community selected me. I think my art has not really changed as I continue with my themes of community, nature, and activism.

What does it mean to you to have the opportunity to work as a full-time artist?

It is a great honor to have received this award and makes me grateful. I can relax a little about financial pressures and can focus on my artmaking. I have time to perhaps explore new themes.

 What do you envision for your future as an artist?

I will continue to create artwork that hopefully heals and inspires people. I want to uplift all people and continue on my journey of self-discovery. I want people to see my message of peace, resilience, and unity. Thank you!

Muralist Aureliano Rivera, 40, the new R.A.I.C.E.S art fellow for Acción Latina. He is also turning timely articles from the El Tecolote archive into comics, published as monthly inserts in El Tecolote. Photo: Christian Urrutia

Name: Aureliano Rivera
Nickname: Yano

Age: 40
Social Media: @muraldoctor
Occupation: I restore murals, write comics, and do food service.
Hometown: I am originally from Puerto Rico, but I have family in Berkeley.

How would you describe your art? 
My art is about making the invisible visible. Mural restoration is an invisible art job, and I seek to make it visible through media.

What inspired you to apply to R.A.I.C.E.S?

I applied to RAICES randomly, forwarded to me by a colleague on social media. Like everything in my life, it’s super random and lucky that I am here.

How has the fellowship changed the art you create? And the way you make art?

The team at Acción Latina is extraordinary. Acción Latina has journalism, curating, fundraising, and event planning under one roof. The pace is breathtaking and the team is super professional. They are all meticulous, hold strong perspectives in their work, and are 100% dedicated to — and seek to amplify  — their cause. It is wonderful to be in exchange with fellow nerds. It’s spirited.

I also want to say that, the printed newspaper is a totally new experience for me. The process of getting the newspaper to print makes the entire workflow different. It’s a challenge and a privilege.

What does it mean to you to have the opportunity to work as a full-time artist? 

This is an extraordinary privilege. I have a job that other incredibly talented individuals applied for. I owe it to them to bring my absolute best.

What do you envision for your future as an artist?

I don’t know what lies ahead for me, but I hope to continue creating comics that support whatever path I find myself on. I’ll spread the gospel of “comics as a tool for amplifying, engaging, and educating,” wherever I go.

I genuinely appreciate the opportunity, and thank anyone for reading my rambling thoughts.

Lila Maes-Shah, digital designer, educator, and healing arts practitioner, is the new R.A.I.C.E.S art fellow for the Marigold Project. Courtesy: Marigold Project

Name: Lila Maes-Shah

Hometown: San Panchito

Hola, Hola!

My name is Lila Maes-Shah, I am a Visual Designer, and my current hometown is San Panchito. I grew up in the Bay Area, with my Mom in SF, and my Dad in the South-East Bay. I like to say: “I am a product of BART.”

How would you describe your art?  

I create large-scale art installations and have a social art practice. Most of my work explores the intersections of social and environmental issues to create a more holistic, sustainable, and nurturing environment. To me, art is the documentation of the human experience. It is the language I use to explore ideas relating to the environment, love, and evolution. My work often includes discarded refuse and organic materials. I like to explore the interconnectivity and the ecology of the materials I am using. I like to think I am an Eco Feminist Artist and it is important to me to use permaculture principles to inform my process and the material I use. One of my favorite permaculture principles is Diversify Environments. 

What inspired you to apply to R.A.I.C.E.S?

I applied to R.A.I.C.E.S. because I love to do social art projects that offer poetic gestures or activations in the community for community members to feel more connected to each other and their environment. Currently, life is so charged with conversations about how different we all are and it is dividing us. I am interested in the conversation of how we can celebrate our individuality with each other and still be unified. Unified we heal, unified we are heard, unified we suffer less, unified we love. 

The project I am currently working on, Golden Threads Oral History, is a self-guided walking tour of ancestral altars in storefronts where the viewer can scan a QR Code. The viewer is then directed to a website with a story of the “Everyday Hero” being honored in the window. This “Everyday Hero” is someone in the community who helped weave the fabric of The Mission. It is these small connections and community activations that give people a sense of place and connect the viewer to the place through the history of The Mission. 

To me, oral history gives unsung heroes a voice and through which they are celebrated. This will be shown in various stores and organizations throughout The Mission from Oct. 8 till Nov. 5. I have been meeting some amazing people doing great things in the community. I am very excited about the amount of love people pour into the project. It has been a dream to work with Marigold Project to deepen community activations in this way.

How has the fellowship changed the art you create? And the way you make art?

The fellowship has given me more space, resources, and access to the community by working with Marigold Project. The Marigold Team has provided enormous support and deeper connections to the community that is needed for the type of social art I am doing. The fellowship has also allowed me to produce the work I crave to make and has given me the opportunity to focus purely on my art. Since graduating with my MFA in 2014, I have had little time to focus on my art. It has been a hustle to pay back my student loans, so this gives me a little space to continue the journey I am so passionate about. 

What does it mean to you to have the opportunity to work as a full-time artist? 

The fellowship is actually part-time at 30 hours a week, but time is a beautiful resource to pour into a project, I am thankful for that.

What do you envision for your future as an artist?

My future self is a collection of my current self. My current self is about finding balance, finding deep and meaningful connections/work, and examining cultural evolution. I hope that the future continues to nurture these spaces in a sustainable way and that I can continue to make art with purpose.