AMP: Favianna Rodriguez's Band of Artists Help Arizona

By Kamren Curiel

I don't know how she does it. For real, Favianna Rodriguez does it all. The self-described nomadic artist and organizer is a printmaker, digital artist, activist, speaker and writer. Peep her blog, it's dope.

She co-founded Tumi's Design, Oakland's only bilingual design studio dedicated to human rights projects, the Eastside Arts Alliance and a political screen-printing collective called Taller Tupac Amaru. She weaves the world's grassroots struggles together using a color palette you want to wear; her portfolio reading like a pictorial history book on social justice.

Raised by strict parents who immigrated to the U.S. from Lima, Peru, Favianna, 33, graduated from high school with honors and went on to U.C. Berkeley to pursue a career in medicine, engineering or architecture. Inspired by a mentor who believes we're all lifelong students with the ability to learn even outside of the classroom, she dropped out of college at 20 to dedicate her life to art. In essence, the decision, educated us all.

Favianna's latest feat is helping organize CultureStrike, the first coalition of artists, writers, and filmmakers working to expose the negative effects of SB 1070. She spent four days in Arizona with CultureStrike seeing, firsthand, the impact of a failed immigration policy.

Here, she shares five things she learned in Arizona.

1. I saw migrant workers shackled and imprisoned in mass numbers and realized their story needs to be publicized.

2. I learned that jailing immigrants is a tremendously profitable market. Private prison corporations are behind a lot of the hateful laws that criminalize immigrants.

3. Artists and writers have the ability to greatly impact culture--the realm of ideas, images and stories that help people make sense of the world. History proves that when culture changes, politics follow.

4. I learned that artists and writers often don't think about the status quo. Artists are visionary and think in ways that go far beyond policy. This is the most exciting part of my work as I organize fellow creatives around a pro-migrant agenda.

5. I saw the innovative cultural work that artists south of the border are doing around the militarization of the border. This was tremendously inspiring.

Check out the video below to learn more about CultureStrike.

Favianna Rodriguez is working on a 60-page graphic novel called Ghosts of the River, which humanizes migration, border enforcement, deportation, detention and anti-immigrant violence. Click here to help make the novel a reality and support a great cause.


This is the first of Voto Latino's newest column, AMP (Art Music Politics), which will delve deeper into the reasons why people who are passionate about politics create art and make music. Through weekly video interviews, Q&A's and first-person accounts, Voto Latino will be your source for artists and musicians dedicated to a cause.