|EMPUJANDO TINTA: |
TEN YEARS OF COLLABORATIVE ACTIVISM
Empujando Tinta is an exhibition of screen prints celebrating the ten-year anniversary of Taller Tupac Amaru (the Taller). The Taller is a collective art studio dedicated to the resurgence of the screen-printing medium as a tool for social change. In 2003, the Oakland based Taller was founded by artists Jesus Barraza, Favianna Rodriguez, Estria Miyashiro and Melanie Cervantes who joined in 2007. Empujando Tinta features work from the Taller’s member artists, as well as work from its collaborations and commissions with other artists including: Laura Amin, Barbara Carrasco, Tony Carranza, Enrique Chagoya, Emory Douglas, Kewana Duncan, Ana Teresa Fernandez, Juan R. Fuentes, Rupert Garcia, Natalia Garcia P., Ester Hernandez, Jesse Hernandez, Celia Herrera Rodriguez, Leslie Lopez, Josh MacPhee, Estria Miyashiro, Emmanuel Montoya, Malaquias Montoya, Julio Cesar Morales, Cerisse Palalagi, Taller Xollotl, Shizu Saldomando, Cory Taum, Jessica Tully, Christine Wong, Tommy Wong, Josh Warren White and Ernesto Yerena.
Inspired by the collective work models of the Mexican Taller de Gráfica Popular, the Cuban based Organization of Solidarity with the People of Asia, Africa and Latin America, the Chican@ Art Movement and Bay Area organizations like Mission Gráfica and Self Help Graphics, Barraza and Rodriguez established the Taller to provide a space that both prints political posters to galvanize communities into action, as well as produces fine art prints created by artists of color.
Over the past ten years, the Taller has designed and produced screen prints for social service organizations and with both emerging and established artists, which in turn has fostered intergenerational exchanges of knowledge and practices. Since its inception, the Taller has produced over 17,000 prints that encompass local and international causes such as: globalization, indigenous sovereignty, migration, gentrification, human rights, and LGBT justice. The Taller’s adroit combination of the traditional hands-on screen-printing medium and use of digital technology (making their work available online) has created a revolutionary hybrid model to activate communities. This has underscored the ability of their work to respond to local and global events with immediacy, serving as tools for individual activists and providing a visual language for causes around the world from migrant rights in Arizona to human rights issues in the Middle East. This unique practice enhances the ability and value of the graphic tradition to transcend borders, disseminate information and incite action.
Taller Tupac Amaru’s dedication to the screen-printing medium stems from a deep commitment to sustain the medium’s legacy as an artistic tradition used to give voice to artists of color and to advocate for the rights of disenfranchised people and causes worldwide.
“The art we’re creating is like throwing little stones at a wall, and as we keep going it’s gonna weaken and it’s gonna break. We’re not trying to be the solution, it’s a multi-generational movement that we’re a part of. It’s not that much, but if we are able to pass this on and get a few more kids throwing stones. Eventually it’s all going to tumble down.” - Jesus Barraza
 Dunn, Alec Icky, and Josh MacPhee “The Future of Xicana Printmaking: Alec Dunna and Josh MacPhee interview with the Taller Tupac Amaru (Favianna Rodriguez, Melanie Cervantes, and Jesus Barraza)” Signal. 01 (2009): 24-25. Print.
Galería de la Raza’s programs are made possible by the generous support of:
The San Francisco Arts Commission; Grants For the Arts/Hotel Tax Fund; The California Arts Council, a state agency; the National Endowment for the Arts, a federal agency; The James Irvine Foundation; The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts; the National Association for Latino Arts and Culture - NALAC Fund for the Arts/Nescafé Clásico; The San Francisco Foundation, The Zellerbach Family Fund; and Galería members and individual donors.
About the collective: Taller Tupac Amaru was founded in 2003 by Jesus Barraza, Favianna Rodriguez, and Estria Miyashiro, and in 2007 was joined by Melanie Cervantes. Its mission is to produce political posters and art prints in order to revive the medium of screen printing. The Taller started with the aim of building a studio that focused on creating political posters that served as tools for community organizations, as well as fine art prints with emerging and established artists. Throughout the past 10 years, The Taller has collaborated with community organization in the Bay Area and beyond, designing and screen printing posters for campaigns that focus on social justice issues such as globalization, immigration, LGBT justice, and food sustainability.
About the artists: Jesus Barraza is an activist printmaker based in San Leandro, California. Using bold colors and high contrast images, his prints reflect both his local and global community, and their resistance in a struggle to create a new world. Barraza has worked closely with numerous community organizations to create prints that visualize struggles for immigration rights, housing, education, and international solidarity. In 1998, Barraza was a co-founder of ten12, a collective of digital artists. He has also worked as a graphic designer for the Mission Cultural Center/Mission Grafica, where Calixto Robles, Juan R. Fuentes, and Michael Roman mentored Barraza in various screen printing methods. In 2003, he co-founded the Taller Tupac Amaru printing studio to foster resurgence in the screen printing medium, where he has printed over 400 editions. Additionally, he is a partner at Tumis Inc., a bilingual design studio helping to integrate art with emerging technologies, and one-half of Dignidad Rebelde.
Printmaking has allowed Barraza to produce relevant images that can be put back into the hands of his community and spread throughout the world. He believes that through this work and the work of Dignidad Rebelde, he is playing a role in keeping the history of graphic art activism alive. As a teacher, Barraza has conducted printmaking workshops at numerous universities and organizations, and has exhibited at the Museum of Contemporary Native Arts in Santa Fe, the de Young Museum San Francisco, Parco Museum Tokyo, Museo de Arte de Ciudad Juarez in Mexico, and El Museo Nacional de Etnografía y Folklore in Bolivia. He was a 2005 artist-in-residence with Juan R. Fuentes at San Francisco’s prestigious de Young Museum, and is a recipient of the “Art is a Hammer” award in 2005 from the Center for the Study of Political Graphics and the “Exemplary Leadership Award” from the SFSU College of Ethnic Studies College in 2010.
Favianna Rodriguez is a transnational interdisciplinary artist and cultural organizer. Her art and collaborative projects deal with migration, global politics, economic injustice, patriarchy, and interdependence. Rodriguez lectures globally on the power of art, cultural organizing, and technology to inspire social change, and leads art workshops at schools around the country. Rodriguez’s mission is to create profound and lasting social change in the world. Through her bold and provocative art, she has already touched the hearts and minds of millions. In addition to her fine arts and community work, Rodriguez partners with social movement groups around the world to create art that is visionary, inspirational, radical and, most importantly, transformational. When Rodriguez is not making art, she is directing CultureStrike, a national arts organization that engages artists, writers and performers in migrant rights. In 2009, she co-founded Presente.org, a national online organizing network dedicated to the political empowerment of Latino communities.
Melanie Cervantes is a Xicana activist-artist whose role is to translate the hopes and dreams of justice movements into images that agitate and inspire. Cervantes’ work includes black and white illustrations, paintings, installations and paper stencils, but she is best known for her prolific production of political screen prints and posters. Employing vibrant colors and hand-drawn illustrations, her work moves those viewed as marginal to the center - featuring powerful youth, elders, women, and queer and indigenous peoples. Cervantes has exhibited at Woman Made Gallery and National Museum of Mexican Art (Chicago), Mexic-Arte and Guadalupe Cultural Arts Center (Austin), Crewest (Los Angeles), and internationally her art has reached Thailand, Slovenia, Palestine, Venezuela, Switzerland, Africa, India, and Guatemala. Her work is in public collections of the Center for the Study of Political Graphics, the Latin American Collection of the Green Library at Stanford, and the Hispanic Research Center at the Arizona State University as well as various private collections throughout the U.S.
Cervantes currently works full-time as Program Officer at the Akonadi Foundation, which supports movement building organizations working to finally put an end to the structural racism that lies at the heart of social inequity in the United States. She holds a BA in Ethnic Studies from the University of California, Berkeley and is the other half of Dignidad Rebelde.