Undocumented Artist Fellowship at Define American - Define American

Undocumented Artist
Fellowship

Eight talented undocumented artists will be connected with resources, a stipend, and national exposure through Define American, while demonstrating that art is a universal language. Each artist will work with community-based organizations in their home cities to continue building their capacity as cultural change-makers and show how art can serve as a catalyst to bringing people together. The Undocumented Artist Fellowship is made possible through a grant from the Kresge Foundation.

Ana Armengod

Multidisciplinary Artist, Braddock, PA

Ana Armengod is a Mexican illustrator and film artist currently living in Braddock, Pennsylvania, born in Mazatlan, Sinaloa, Mexico. Her work is tied with nature and its death, as well as the small details that get lost in the bigger picture. Focused on accentuating the overlooked and unimportant, she gives magnitude to human reactions, history, emotion, and the environment while questioning how these things push us to evolve.

Artists who inspire her: Remedios Varo, Julio Ruelas

Christian Arteaga

Actor, Escalon, CA

Christian Arteaga is a classically trained actor born in Mexico, and raised in California’s Central Valley. He has studied various disciplines including musical theatre, circus, Shakespeare and Classical texts. He has worked with several award winning theatre companies such as PCPA, Sierra Repertory Theatre, and Bay Area Children’s Theatre, and has originated several bilingual roles. He finds his passion in using theatre as a form of activism, especially using verbatim theatre, in a cycle of productions called “Community Speaks.” He hopes to travel the country, interviewing people to highlight the narrative and stories surrounding “The Wall” and hopes to inspire compassion for immigrants in the process.

Artists who inspires him: Stan Lee and Cantinflas

Brian Herrera

Graphic Designer, Chicago, IL

Brian Herrera is a queer, undocumented immigrant and graphic artivist. He was born in Veracruz, Mexico and raised on the West Side of Chicago, Illinois. His passion is to uplift the voices of queer POC communities through various forms of illustration, print media, and marketing. His latest project focuses on giving a platform to other undocumented artists in the United States. Organizations and clients he has worked with include: The National Museum of Mexican Art, Puerto Rican Arts Alliance, Illinois Humanities Council, Free Street Theater, and Red Bull.

 

Elnaz Javani

Multidisciplinary Artist, Chicago, IL

Elnaz Javani is an Iranian artist, researcher, and educator who creates sculptures, drawings, installations, and videos that explore themes of female body, trauma, and cultural identity. Her practice embraces conceptual strategies and handwork using everyday materials – mostly fabric, cloth, and thread. She received her BFA from the Tehran Art University of Iran in 2009, and her MFA from the School of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 2015 with a full merit scholarship. Her work has been exhibited nationally and internationally in: the USA, Spain, Iran, France, Colombia, Turkey, UAE, Germany, and Switzerland. Such as at the CAC Ses Voltes International Residency Program (Spain), the Luminas’ Cultural Foundation of Visual Arts (Chicago), the Mottahedan Projects (Dubai), the Nippon Steel & Sumitomo Metal USA Presidential Award Exhibitions (Chicago), The Munich cultural center at Pasinger Fabrik (Germany), “Le Commun”, Bâtiment d’Art Contemporain (Geneva), San Telmo Museum (Spain) Arts Santa Mónica Barcelona (Spain), and at Espacio El Dorado Bogotá (Colombia).

An artist who inspires her: Louise Bourgeois

Julie Yeeun Kim

Singer/Songwriter, Los Angeles, CA

Julie Yeeun Kim was born in Korea and raised on the other side of the world in Los Angeles, CA. She teaches English and Asian American Studies at California State University Long Beach by day, and by night Julie is a singer and songwriter. In 2018 Julie collaborated with jazz musician John Daversa’s Big Band in the album “American Dreamers,” which was awarded three Grammy awards in 2019, including the category for “Best Large Jazz Ensemble.” She is currently an art fellow at Define American where she is working on an collection of songs about the fruitful and frustrating experiences of dating as an undocumented woman. In addition to the quotidian realities of romance, she is also interested at the intersections of faith, community, and politics, particularly politics surrounding issues of race and immigration. One of her developing projects is a national church tour bringing together music and conversation.

Fernando Lopez

Photographer New Orleans, LA

Fernando Lopez is a community and cultural organizer, self-taught photographer, and indigenous “migrant” from Michoacán, Mexico. Fernando’s work focuses on the human struggle for justice, equity, and dignity. He has experienced firsthand various aspects of the immigration enforcement machine — from being placed in deportation proceedings himself, to organizing across the U.S. Gulf South with fellow migrants in deportation proceedings. Prior to full-time photography work, Fernando worked as a lead organizer with the Congress of Day Laborers, an immigrant and workers’ rights organization based in New Orleans, Louisiana. Currently, he is part of Ascendance, a collective of six Black and Brown people who host a monthly zodiac-themed party that centers and uplifts Black and Brown culture and Black and Brown bodies of all genders. Fernando’s photography is informed by an indigenous migrant perspective, honoring the culture, beauty, and struggles of his surroundings. Fernando uses photography to capture the dignity of Black and Brown life in the U.S., focusing on the power of details to document and uplift the unfolding history of a Black and Brown New Orleans. In his own words: “I try to document the struggles and joys of hustlers, artists, poets, workers, lovers, revolutionaries, and any special being – these are my people.

An artist who inspires himEmory Douglas

Karla Daniela Rosas

Painter, New Orleans, LA

Karla Daniela Rosas is a self-taught visual artist and activist born in Nuevo Laredo, Mexico. Karla grew up in the Gulf South and currently lives in New Orleans. Karla considers herself first and foremost a story-teller. Tired of media tropes of helpless and passive immigrant mothers, Karla uses her art to tell stories about migrant women that she wants to hear — stories about being powerful, young, defiant, sexual, angry, joyous…and sometimes petty. Karla works with a mixture of digital illustration tools as well as traditional inks, markers, acrylic, and gouache.

In addition to her own work, Karla regularly works on collaborative art projects with members of Congress of Day Laborers, an immigrant and workers’ rights organization in New Orleans, Louisiana. Karla has also had her work featured in various independent publications including: Antigravity Magazine, St. Sucia, and Roots Rising, the official Take ‘Em Down NOLA zine. Currently, she is illustrating a forthcoming poetry collection for Detroit-based writer and poet, Christiana Castillo.

As part of her Define American Undocumented Artists Fellowship, Karla is working with Fernando Lopez on a collaborative multimedia portrait series. The project, Caras vemos, corazones no sabemos, spotlights key members of the New Orleans community who are shaping its history from the bottom-up and represent the corazon or “heart” of the city. The project aims to both document the histories ignored by mainstream narratives of New Orleans, and also honor the beauty and full personhood of the individuals who are a part of these histories.

An artist who inspires her: Brandan “B Mike” Odums

Lilian Shtereva

Painter, Brooklyn, NY

Lilian Shtereva is a Brooklyn-based painter who got her start in the arts growing up in Haskovo, Bulgaria. She studied at The Faculty of Fine Arts in Veliko Tarnovo, Bulgaria. She employs oil paint as a medium, gravitating towards colors and textures inspired by nature. The variations of texture and density within her practice, from heavy impasto to thin washes and drips, emphasize the tactile nature of the medium. In her work there is a great sensitivity to the imaginal realms that allows fantastical visions to unfold and find form. Lilian is a proud recipient of the Define American Artist Fellowship 2019. Most of her work can be seen in local Brooklyn group shows.

 

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Our First
Exhibition

#UndocuJoy is a celebratory exhibition honoring the day-to-day spirit, passion, intelligence and resilience embodied by undocumented communities. This exhibition, at Galeria de la Raza in San Francisco, challenges the media’s collective archetype of undocumented people, which often conjures images of fear, despair and villains. 

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