Mujeres de Maiz: 19 Years of Womxn’s Art, Activism and Community

THIS SUNDAY Mujeres de Maiz honor 19 years of art, activism, and community building focusing on women, girls and trans women across the Eastside at the Mujeres de Maiz 19th Anniversary Live Art Show, Exhibit & Festival: One: Mind, Body, Spirit at Self Help Graphics.  It’s a dream and vision womynifested into an amazing ceremony for them.  They circle up, pray, gather, organize, plan and envision as the Zapatistas say “a world where many words fit.” A space where they could hear their stories, be who they want to be, share palabra (words) or show art or perform a song for the 1st time or the 10th.. it is a brave space that paved waves for other collectives and organizations to do the same and they don’t take this lightly.  They know their work is on the generations before that have paved the way.  The feminists, the Chicanxs, the elders and more. Their work is to continue that work and make it their own.

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Various Mujeres de Maiz flyers from the 1997 to the 16th Anniversary.

“We remember when we were shunned, laughed at, called man haters and lesbians for doing what we do. We remember when we were the only event of it’s kind and boyfriends wouldn’t let their girlfriends go to a Mujeres De Maiz show. Yeah, it was like that. All just because we were being positive, empowering role models and doing it not for the $, not for the fame, but for the simple reason that we absoutely had to.  This was life or death for us.” says cofounder Felicia ‘Fe’ Montes.  They said they just kept doing the work, organizing events, reading poetry, telling their stories and making zines – knowing that there were some of that, none of that and lots of in betweens. They are now one of the longest running, if not the longest running women of color zine, still being published.  With over 1,000 events and 10,000 people connecting with their special brand of  intersectional feminism, no wonder they have inspired so many.  Other circles in Texas and San Diego have started up inspired by the work of Mujeres de Maiz… groups like Creative Women Unite and Trenzas in Texas and Mujeres de Maiz Fronterizas in San Diego.

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Photo of performers after a Mujeres de Maiz Show in 1998 at the old CSO building now Boyle Heights City Hall.

MdM is excited to see many other groups starting and flourishing. “It is time” they say. Now, they are asking support as they transition into a non-profit and into holding that same sacred space for more generations and in more schools and centers. Their events are always community driven, alcohol free, and for the empowerment of the 7 generations -an indigenous teaching that what work is done is for the next 7 generations to come and because of 7 generations before.

Join them this Sunday March 6th, 2016 for the “ReLOVEution” at their Annual Intercultural, Interdisciplinary Intergenerational Arts Happening with performance ofrendas (offerings) of music, spoken word, dance, artisans and vendors featuring all womxn and queer/trans people of color since 1997. This event is for, by and about & organized by the labor of Women Of Color & Queer Trans Women of color spiritual and holistic Artivists. Check it out and support these Woman Warriors.

The event includes PERFORMANCE OFFERINGS BY:
AnA Saldaña Music
Cuicani
D’Lo
Edule (Eddika Organista of El-Haru Kuroi)

el rio
Fanshen di’Giovanni
Mayda Del Valle
Sheila Govindarajan
Skeltonics
Yesika Salgado

Speakers from: AF3IRM National, Proyecto Jardin and more!

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Never been? Check out this video to see and feel the energy: https://vimeo.com/34828355

The event will be CELEBRATING & HONORING:
-19 Years of Mujeres de Maiz
-International Womxn’s Day,
-Womxn’s Herstory Month,
-Mexica New Year
-the coming of Spring
-the release of their NEW 2016 WOC/QWOC ZINE Publication!
-the Opening Reception of their Month-long Art Exhibition at the Self Help Gallery (thru 3/26/16)

Creating  liberation and feminism in the flesh…
“A world where many worlds fit” – Dicho Zapatista

Get your pre-sale tix today:
https://www.eventbrite.com/e/mujeres-de-maiz-19th-anniversary-live-art-show-exhibit-festival-one-mind-body-spirit-tickets-21386824568

Event is Sunday, March 6th at Self Help Graphics & Art
1300 E. First Street, Los Angeles, CA 90033

More info at www.MujeresDeMaiz.com

Mas Arte Opens Childrens Creativity

By Amanda Mayberry

Children's gallery - after each Mas Arte workshop children are able to proudly display their artwork on the wall.

Children’s gallery – after each Mas Arte workshop children are able to proudly display their artwork on the wall.

Children unleash their creative minds at Mas Arte painting workshops held by Mujeres de Maiz. The Mas Arte kids workshops began in early summer and have just two more workshops left. The workshops will end on August 21.

Held at Legacy LA in Boyle Heights, the work shops are taught by Margaret Alarcon. This Friday children will be learning dine inspired loom weaving.

This summer’s art lessons have taught children to draw in the style of Paul Klee, circle mural painting, the meaning of In Lak’Ech and the Tree of Life. The media used varied from oil pastels to washable paint.

Alarcon began by reading to the children “Cat & Bird.” The children’s book and art work are inspired by Paul Klee’s art and feature one of his famous cat paintings on the last page of the book. For other workshops Alarcon begins with simple exercises, stretches that reach up and up all the way to the sun.

Alarcon remains interactive with the children through out the workshops, encouraging individual creativity and the children are eager to participate, expressing comprehensive understanding of the ideas and theories being taught.

Make a circle - Children and parents make a circle in preparation for the circle mural workshop.

Make a circle – Children and parents make a circle in preparation for the circle mural workshop.

No two paintings are ever the same as multi-colored cats are drawn out in all different shapes and sizes placed against an array of back drops. On orange construction paper the children start on their master pieces, glowing golden trees and imaginary cats or fluorescent circle mural paintings.

The children have no problem following Alarcon’s step by step instructions. She encourages the children to express themselves with no mistakes because she says she believes there are no mistakes in art.

“Kids are natural artists,” says Alarcon.

At the end of every workshop each painting is briefly put up on the wall for the children to display their work for parents and other children to see. It is a small art gallery for children to stand next to their art, proud and posing for pictures for parents who are just as proud.

Tree of life - Two children working on their tree of life paintings.

Tree of life – Two children working on their tree of life paintings.

For the Paul Klee workshop two children offered their art work to their aunt as gifts.

“We’ll take it home so you can give it to mama,” says Irma Romero to her nephew Austin José, 4 years old and in Pre-K.

“Mine is for auntie,” says Aidan José, 7 years old.

Brothers Aidan and Austin José were brought to the workshop by their Aunt Irma and her daughter Pamela.

“I’m taking a Chicano psychology class at PCC,” says Pamela. “My teacher told us about it so we decided to come.”

“It’s important to bring kids to this sort of thing,” says Romero. “It reminds me of when my daughter was young.”

The children’s workshops are just as rewarding to parents as they are for the children. The MdM workshops offer a way for parents to connect and interact with their kids while perhaps also learning some things and expressing themselves creatively as they paint with their children.

MdM work shops are a safe and healing space not just for women but for their families as well.

For more information on Mujeres de Maiz visit  www.MujeresDeMaiz.com   To register for the upcoming Mas Arte Workshops click HERE.


About the Writer: AMANDA MAYBERRY

Amanda Mayberry is a Black Xicana woman born and raised in East Los Angeles. In 2013 she received my Associate of Arts in journalism from East Los Angeles College. Currently she resides in Long Beach where she attends Cal State Long Beach working towards my Bachelor’s in journalism. Writing is her passion: she is a journalist and poet performing by stage name La Blaxicana. Through her writing, poetry and performance she finds healing, empowerment and strength in her identity as a woman of color. Amanda is the current Media and PR Intern for MdM.

Clitoral Mass Promotes Womxn Solidarity

Prayer to the South - Members of the Ovarian Psycos say a traditional prayer asking safety for all

Prayer to the South – Members of the Ovarian Psycos say a traditional prayer asking safety for all

By Amanda Mayberry

Womxn, gender non-conforming, two spirited, queer, cisgender, and trans womxn from all over Los Angeles shared their voice at this year’s fourth annual Clitoral Mass.

With the help of volunteers and the brave members of the Ovarian Psyco Cycles, the Clitoral Mass bike ride rode through the streets of Los Angeles on Saturday August 1st for over 30 miles.

The riders garnered plenty of support from pedestrians and motorists though, there was a bit of hostility. Regardless the cyclists remained unphased and only laughed or disregarded hostile honking.

Hosted and coordinated by the Ovarian Psycos, the bike ride had a turn out of over 300 participants.

The voices of hundreds of womxn of color echoed with strength through the streets of LA from early afternoon into late night hours.

Sharing messages of anti-gentrification and pro-education the Clitoral Mass bike ride has been successful in promoting solidarity amongst womxn of color.

Rider Edxie Betts, has been attending Clitoral Mass for the past three years. She says this is her second time riding.

Riding Out

Riding Out – Cyclists holding for a red light on Broadway in Chinatown.

“Showing femme solidarity is important because all femininity is under attack of white male domination,” says Betts.

The bike ride began at Placita Olvera, across the street from Union Station. The cyclists rode a little over 30 miles through Downtown LA, Lincoln Heights, Boyle Heights and back down to Downtown LA to the original starting point.

Along the bike route were several planned stops including a water park and various spoken word performances performed by local collectives. Participants of Clitoral Mass included Los Angeles Rooted, a community youth group advocating bike safety awareness.

Brenda Yancor has been a LAR coordinator for two years.

“Aside from just participating in Clitoral Mass we’re also here supporting and facilitating for the children of LAR to come out and have this experience,” says Rancor.

Cooling Off - Women cyclists cooling of at the Rio de Los Angeles water park

Cooling Off – Women cyclists cooling of at the Rio de Los Angeles water park

The second stop along the route included entertainment in the form of a spoken word poem by the North East Los Angeles Alliance and presentations by two of the youth participants in LAR.

Presenters from LAR advocated for bike safety while the NELA Alliance spoke out against gentrification.

The owners of Todo Verde also showed their support, donating smoothies and aguas frescas to tired and sweaty riders.

By the end of the bike ride numbers dwindled but the feeling of empowerment and solidarity held strong.


About the Writer: AMANDA MAYBERRY

Amanda Mayberry is a Black Xicana woman born and raised in East Los Angeles. In 2013 she received my Associate of Arts in journalism from East Los Angeles College. Currently she resides in Long Beach where she attends Cal State Long Beach working towards my Bachelor’s in journalism. Writing is her passion: she is a journalist and poet performing by stage name La Blaxicana. Through her writing, poetry and performance she finds healing, empowerment and strength in her identity as a woman of color. Amanda is the current Media and PR Intern for MdM.