Art workshop with Favianna Rodriguez

By Jessenya Guerra
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Students work on their artwork after Favianna’s demonstration. Photo by Jessenya Guerra.

On March 8, in honor of International Womxn’s day, activist and artist Favianna Rodriguez led an art workshop for the students of California State University, Monterey Bay (CSUMB). Rodriguez showed students how they could express their feelings and desires for social change through their art.

Rodriguez instructed the students that attended to create art that will make people stop and think. She said that the most effective pieces of art have statements of less than six words on them because people often will not take the time to observe the art, and that the shorter the statement, the more likely someone is to read it.

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CSUMB Otters were pouring over markers, magazines, and glitter to curate their own masterpieces. Rodriguez had brought over 200 different images and prints for students to cut out and use in their own posters. Rodriguez said that it was more important for the students to craft their own thoughts than for her to tell them what to put on paper.

After over an hour of Rodriguez helping students illustrate the problems and sayings that were important in their lives, The Lutrinae secured an exclusive interview with Rodriguez.

The Lutrinae: How do you think art helps social change?

Favianna: “All social change requires for there to be a cultural transformation and a transformation in the way that people think. And art is powerful and when I saw art, I mean visual art, film, television, music, is very powerful for us as human beings. There have been such powerful songs that shape people’s identity.”

People have seen artwork that can completely blow them away. I believe that art is crucial to changing hearts and minds and in transforming our imaginations so that people can have empathy and put themselves in other people’s shoes. Art also introduces us to many new possibilities that may never have existed.

Black panther, for example, is such a great movie where we get to see the imaginary world of ‘Wakanda’ where we get to see a country where white supremacy didn’t exist. Or when we read comic books about such powerful femmes. Women who are sex positive and are kicking ass. We get to live out our imaginations through art and that is such an important part of social change. We need to inspire people. We need to help them see the world that is possible.

The Lutrinae: What does being a woman mean to you?

Favianna: “For me being a woman, I am cisgendered, anyone who feels aligned with being a woman is welcome. I feel that the word woman is an inclusive term and when I say women I usually use “Womxn” to make it something that it inclusive of trans-women. Or even female appearing people.

Personally I am not about the gender binary, but I was raised as a female appearing person and I have experienced all the things that come with that. For me being a woman means that I am in touch with nature’s ability to be in connection with other people. Because even thought myself, I don’t want to have kids and I don’t want to reproduce.

I am here because somebody reproduced me. And I have in my body and soul this desire to care for other people, and that is what drives humanity. I think that without women, What the fuck have men done? They created war?! Unfortunately we’re in a time where we have to completely rethink masculinity because it doesn’t work anymore. We don’t need these men out there with spears and shit, we don’t need that anymore.”

Rodriguez was very excited to visit CSUMB and see the surrounding area. She has many important and powerful thoughts that are key to the International Womxn’s movement.

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