For more than a decade, Favianna Rodriguez has been creating posters and graphics supporting social justice movements and political activism. Carrying on the tradition of the Chicano arts movement of the 1960s and 1970s, Rodriguez is part of a new generation of artists devoted to public awareness and community involvement in grassroots causes.
A largely self-taught artist, Rodriguez learned about silk-screening in her teens by taking free art classes offered in the Fruitvale district of Oakland, where she grew up. For Rodriguez, silk-screening is an art of the people, as evidenced by its use in social and political movements throughout the last 100 years to educate and organize the masses. Along with her longtime collaborator, Jesus Barraza, Rodriguez designs posters to raise awareness on issues ranging from genetically modified foods to immigration rights to globalization.
As an activist, Rodriguez goes far beyond creating posters and other graphic work. She helped found the EastSide Arts Alliance, an organization that supports Oakland neighborhoods through arts programs and by making available performance and studio space and even a number of affordable housing units. In addition to her work with EastSide, Rodriguez is a co-owner of TUMIS, an East Oakland-based design firm that provides design, technology and communication strategy services for social justice organizations and nonprofits.
One of Rodriguez’s latest projects is the compilation of images for a book entitled “Reproduce and Revolt: Radical Images for the 21st Century.” The images, which will also be made available online, are offered for free to be used for noncommercial activist purposes. For Rodriguez, it’s a way to put powerful graphics in the hands of anyone interested in supporting progressive struggles globally.
While working as an artist-in-residence at Berkeley’s Kala Art Institute, Favianna Rodriguez put together a poster for the California Day Laborer’s conference held at San Francisco State University. Based on a series of snapshots Rodriguez took of day laborers, the image suggests the workers’ experience while conveying a sense of both struggle and dignity. Spark follows Rodriguez as she presents the poster at the conference and solicits feedback that will help her to refine the image and make it more effective.