RAW (Sally)

On Favianna Rodriguez

Written by Sally Morton

In the progressive United States, it is easy to be blindsided by materialism or societal factors and give up what one loves in order to succeed or make a living. Favianna Rodriguez is a prime example of someone who has fought to do what she loves despite oppression, racism, and disbelievers. Favianna has successfully built a life for herself where she can explore what she loves and spread this passion towards others. In simple terms, Favianna loves posters and revolutions. I attended her talk at USF entitled “Art and Social Justice” and I was struck by her confidence, intelligence and intensity.

Born and raised Catholic in Oakland, Rodriguez faced discrimination and oppression by her peers, teachers, and parents. In school she noticed that she was often the only “brown girl” in many of her honors classes. Rodriguez felt as if they school system had cheated the minorities and casted them off as lazy, stupid, and worthless. In essence, children of minorities were failing because the school system had failed them first. Already at a racial disadvantage, attempting to succeed in school and get out of the local community seemed pointless and unrealistic. Rodriguez felt this hopelessness, this desperation so feverously that she demanded and fought for change. Her parents also tried to devalue her individuality. As Mexican immigrants, they wanted their daughter to become a successful, rich engineer and geared her towards pursuing science and mathematics. Understandably so, they did not want their daughter to become a starving artist when they had risked so much in their pursuit of life in the United States. She was raised with Catholic ideals that challenged her from the start. Rodriguez could not wrap her head around the fact that an almighty, loving God would smite any girl who was not virginal. She did not believe in her grandmother’s path for her either, to marry a Catholic Mexican man and bear him children. To conform, Rodriguez believes, is to die.

Puntang (Sally)So she pursued art, a powerful, visionary ideal. Her graphic posters emphasize the downtrodden, beaten, and demoralized victims of the U.S. government. They focus on issues that face minorities today such as health care, right to education, and immigration. With vibrant colors and stark images, her posters demand attention and arouse intense feelings in all viewers. They’re extremely controversial and that is why they are so effective. When I saw a few, at first, I was shocked. One reads, “There is no shame in having an abortion. COME OUT. SHARE YOUR STORY. BREAK THE SILENCE.” Another is over a cartoon woman with very intense, exaggerated facial features that reads, “POLITICS OFF MY PUTANG! My uterus is mine.” She is demanding honesty in women because it is their silence that aids oppression. The figures in her posters look like native Mayan women, praising the ancestry. Her posters have been displayed in shows around the United States and also internationally in Tokyo and Rome. She has taught in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Mexico, and Cuba. She is co-founder of East Side Art Alliance and Visual Element in Oakland. These programs emphasize the importance of muralism to aspiring artists. She has also co-founded and presides over Tumis Inc. — a bilingual program which fuses art and technology

Favianna’s primary desire is to revolutionize this country by reviving art, starting with small communities. She is another artist in the long line of revolutionaries who demands social justice, utmost equality, and honesty. By pursuing simple graphic posters, Favianna can reach a vast majority of people in all fields of life and in simple effort “touch their hearts.”