Meet the Curators

CARAVANA: Mobilizing Central American Art (1984–Present) curatorial residency exhibition is curated by Fátima RamírezMauricio Ramírez, and Josué RojasCARAVANA: Mobilizing Central American Art (1984–Present) is a multidisciplinary traveling exhibition that centers U.S. Central American artists living in California as well as across the United States to examine their lived experiences in relation to the impact of mass migration, family separation, and the legacy of political action and solidarity with the people of Central America.

As Salvadoran curators raised in the U.S. after our parents fled the Civil War, the curators draw inspiration from the 1984 Artist Call Against U.S. Intervention which mobilized thousands of artists across the U.S. to join in the solidarity movement with the people of El Salvador, Guatemala, and Nicaragua. This call led to the creation of the PLACA murals at Balmy Alley and the Sanctuary Movement in San Francisco. This exhibition is a U.S. Central-American artist response to the attack on Central American families, particularly our youth who represent the next generation.

CARAVANA: Mobilizing Central American Art (1984–Present) seeks to humanize and uplift the experiences of recently arrived migrant youth among teenagers and young college students who wish to better understand the context for recent caravanas, or organized groups of migrants. Central American artists on the frontlines, speaking their truths from their perspective and their home base community. The last thing we want is for an entire generation of Central Americans living in the U.S. to internalize the xenophobic messages spread by mainstream media and by recent political administrations, which undermine their creativity, resourcefulness, and determination.

Meet the Exhibiting Artists

Claes Oldenberg
Francisco Camplis, Ray Patlan, Timothy Drescher
Galileo Gonzalez
Herbert Sigüenza
Jane Norling
Jasmin Cañas
Jessy DeSantis
Jim Prigoff
Jos Sances
Josué Rojas
Juan R. Fuentes
Juana Alicia
Kenia Guillen
Kiara Aileen Machado
Lucia Ippolito
Mabel Jimenez

Maria Ester Garcia
Marina P. Wong
Mario Quiroz
Mauricio Ramírez
Michelle Angela Ortiz
Miranda Bergman 
Mincho Vega
EL MISFT
O’Brien Thiele
Dr. Oriel Maria Siu
OZI
Rafael Arana
Rebeca Abidail Flores
Rene Castro
Veronica Melendez
Vero Majano

Claes Oldenberg

Claes Oldenberg

Artists Call Against U.S. Intervention, (1984)

Poster, 28″ x 20″, NFS

Francisco Camplis, Ray Patlan, & Timothy Drescher

Ray Patlan & Francisco Camplis, Muralists

Timothy Drescher, Photographer

Camino Al Mercado (1984)

Acrylic paint on wall, Balmy Alley, Canvas print , 14″ x 24″

Galileo Gonzalez

Los Angeles born and raised visual artist Galileo Gonzalez is inspired by his upbringing, urban surroundings, and his Salvadoran heritage. His recent work visually interprets oral stories from the Salvadoran Civil War, as well as the diaspora that followed through generations.

On display at SOMArts is “Vivos Están Aquellos Que Murieron”, a large-scale painting whose title roughly translates to “Alive are those that have passed away”. As part of his 2019 exhibition “En Honor”, this piece pays homage to historical Salvadoran martyrs and their lasting legacies toward liberation.

To learn more about Galileo’s artwork visit galileogonzalez.tumblr.com and follow him on Instagram @gali_gonz_art

Herbert Sigüenza

Sigüenza was born in San Francisco, California on January 23, 1959 and is an American actor, writer, and performer based in California. Siguenza was originally trained as an artist and print maker. Siguenza attended the California College of Arts as a first-generation student and received a BFA in printmaking. Shortly after, he served for 10 years as the Art Director at La Raza Silkscreen Center / La Raza Graphics in San Francisco. He is best known for co-founding the theater performance group Culture Clash, which is still active since its founding in 1984, more than thirty years later.

Jane Norling

Jane Norling majored in painting (color field abstraction) and printmaking at Bennington College, 1968. After working in book design at Random House, NY, Jane left for San Francisco in 1970, drawn by the expansive landscapes and active political environment of California. She joined new publishing and print collective Peoples Press, transferring typography skills gained at Random House into serving community print/design needs while publishing materials focused on building justice in the US and ending the US war in Vietnam. Early 1970s, fueled by years of social uprising, was the beginning of a vibrant community mural movement in San Francisco, with artists of diverse neighborhoods responding to related political realities by painting major works on outdoor walls. The anti-imperialists of the Haight Ashbury Muralists–Miranda Bergman, Jane Norling and Arch Williams–designed, directed and painted murals focused on educating hidden US and San Francisco histories as well as expressing community aspirations for a better world. Communication among muralists working around the city and the country was strong and vital, including a national publication Community Murals Magazine.

Jasmin Cañas

Jasmin Cañas is a self taught visual artist from San Francisco, California. Working with a spectrum of acrylic paints and digital palettes, she captures images, inspired by motherhood, family dynamics, and the psychology of trauma. Inspired by the surrealist style of painting, she ties together imagery collected from thoughts and dreams in order to tell a story. In 2014, Jasmin was commissioned to paint a large heart sculpture for the San Francisco General Hospital’s “Heroes and Hearts” foundation. This sculpture was later displayed in the AT&T ball park, in San Francisco’s Union Square. In 2016, she exhibited her collection “Matanzas”, inspired by her trip to Cuba, in a privately owned gallery in San Francisco. In late 2017, Jasmin displayed her work in the group exhibition, “Housing”, which was held at the offices of Senator Scott Wiener. In 2018, She presented her collection of Mission District inspired paintings at Action Latina for the “Ode to our Barrio” exhibition. Jasmin continues to reside in San Francisco, and is passionate about exploring new creative outlets and forms of expression.

To learn more about Jasmin’s artwork visit jasmincolores.com

Jessy DeSantis

Self taught emerging artist Jessy DeSantis layers vibrant color over white backgrounds to bring focus to her subjects. Surrounded by pitaya fruits and birds found in the Americas, DeSantis’ “Abuelita” is a magical realist ode to her grandmother’s unconditional love wrapped in stories of migration, home, and hope.

To learn more about Jessy’s artwork visit jdesantisart.com and follow her on Instagram @jdesantisart

Jim Prigoff

Jim Prigoff 

PLACA opening dancers (1984)

Giclee print12″ x 18″, NFS

Jos Sances

A long time exhibiting artist at SOMArts Cultural Center, printmaker and muralist Jos Sances creates narrative based works on political concerns, the natural world, and the human condition. In 2010 and 2016 the Library of Congress acquired 495 prints from Sances which represented a broad overview of his printmaking. Along with founding Alliance Graphics and co–founding Mission Grafica at MCCLA, Jos is a proud founding and lifelong member of the Great Tortilla Conspiracy.

To learn more about Jos’s artwork visit josart.net

Josué Rojas

As a Salvadoran born artist, educator and Mission native, Rojas brings more than 20 years of experience in fine arts, community arts, arts leadership, and bilingual and ethnic media in the San Francisco Bay Area. Throughout his many endeavors, his work and vision have been characterized by a commitment to San Francisco’s cherished values of community arts and media, civic engagement, social justice and empowerment for migrant communities and marginalized communities at large.

To learn more about Josué’s artwork visit josuerojasart.com and follow him on Instagram @josue.rojas.art

Juan R. Fuentes

Juan R. Fuentes is a Chicano art teacher, cultural worker, and social activist poster and print maker. Fuentes shares, “I am a Chicano Artist living in San Francisco, California, a long time cultural worker, art teacher and social activist/poster maker and print maker. My goal has always been to portray our people in a very positive, beautiful and dignified manner in contrast to the continual negative portrayal of us in the media.”

To learn more about Juan’s artwork visit juanrfuentes.com

Juana Alicia

Juana Alicia, Artist

Te Oimos Guatemala (1984)

Original watercolor study, Balmy Alley, Canvas print, 19″ x 20″12″, NFS

To learn more about Juana Alicia’s artwork visit juanaalicia.com

Kenia Guillen

Kenia Guillen is a filmmaker based in Queens, New York. Originally from rural El Salvador, her cinematic practice is in conversation with processes for personal integration, and using narrative to acknowledge intergenerational trauma.

To learn more about Kenia’s artwork visit keniaguillen.co and follow her on Instagram at @tierranarrative

Kiara Aileen Machado

Kiara Aileen Machado confronts the erasure experienced by marginalized communities and questions the absence of Central American folx from mainstream U.S. and Latinx narratives. She weaves together vibrant color palettes, plant life, her subjects, and symbolic imagery to create an immersive environment that empowers marginalized communities and overlooked histories.

To learn more about Kiara’s artwork visit kiaraaileen.com and follow her on Instagram @kiara_aileen_arts

Lucia Ippolito

Lucía González Ippolito is a Mexican-American artist, teacher, and activist born and raised in the San Francisco Mission District. Growing up in a Latino neighborhood that has been vastly impacted by gentrification, Lucia felt it her duty from a young age to focus on cultural/political themes in her artwork. As a muralist, she directed and designed the Mission Makeover Mural, that covers issues of wealth and displacement in the Mission District and the Women of the Resistance mural, depicting 38 women activists; both murals in San Francisco’s Balmy Alley.

To learn more about Lucia’s artwork visit cialuart.com and follow her on Instagram @cialuart

Mabel Jimenez

Mabel Jiménez is an independent documentary photographer and reporter based in San Francisco. Born and raised 15 minutes from the Mexico/U.S. border, themes of biculturalism and immigration have influenced her photographic and journalistic work. She has documented San Francisco’s Latino community since 2008 focusing on themes of gentrification, immigration, police brutality, housing, the arts and more. She is the former Photo Editor for El Tecolote bilingual newspaper, and during her seven-year tenure in the position, she created, produced and curated a yearly group photography exhibit showcasing the newspaper’s best photojournalism. The exhibit has run for six consecutive years, making it the only ongoing photography exhibit in the San Francisco Bay Area showcasing the Latino experience. She is currently an Artist in Residence at San Francisco’s COVID Command Center, where she documents the work of the city’s Disaster Service Workers in response to the COVID-19 epidemic.

To learn more about Mabel’s artwork visit mabeljimenez.com and follow her on Instagram @mabeljmnz

Maria Ester Garcia

Maria Ester “MEG”  Garcia

La belleza de la Naturaleza tropical (2020)

Acrylic on canvas, 40″ x 30″

Marina P. Wong

Marina Perez-Wong is an artist born and raised in San Francisco’s Mission District. She survived a rare childhood cancer and spent the first few years of her life in and out of the hospital. It was there that she took to art as a form of communication, self expression, and escape. In the 1980’s the Mission District was a cultural hub filled with a mix of cultures, mostly Latinx, who were visual artists, muralists, writers, performance artists and activists. Her mother was a photojournalist who documented many of these artists and important local events including the 1989 earthquake, and Cesar Chavez’s movement. It was this foundation that helped shape her own visual voice. Using bright colors, contrast and semi realistic subject matter, her work is motivated by the healing of current and generational trauma, community, history, local and global politics, transformation and education.

Follow Marina on Instagram @themissionblue

Mario Quiroz

Mario Quiroz (pronounced ki-rós) as a Salvadoran-American, bilingual and bicultural, and socially engaged citizen, the main goal of Mario’s photographic practice is to be a witness of his current time. Using images, Mario translate’s economic, political and human experiences into narratives that announce, denounce or call for better social conditions. Mario makes art political, and tells his political views through art: graphics and balanced compositions are just the outline to showcase people’s challenges and experiences as immigrants in the US.

To learn more about Mario’s artwork visit marioquiroz.com and follow him on Instagram @mquirozs

Mauricio Ramírez

Mauricio E. Ramírez is an artist and Ph.D. Candidate in Latin American and Latino Studies with an emphasis in Visual Studies at UC Santa Cruz. An expert on Latinx public murals and visual art in the San Francisco Bay Area, Mauricio’s dissertation, “Painting Central America: U.S. Central American Visual Art of San Francisco,” explores the visual expressions and solidarity that emerged in San Francisco’s Mission District as a mass influx of Salvadorans, Nicaraguans, and Guatemalans to the city. By combining visual analysis, archival research, and oral histories, he explores how Latinx and U.S Central American visual artists continue to reclaim public space for the Latino community in a rapidly gentrifying neighborhood. Through the multiple interviews and archival research he has conducted, Mauricio’s expansive knowledge of artwork created in solidarity with Central America will provide details of past events and artists of San Francisco with historical accuracy and data.

Michelle Angela Ortiz

Michelle Angela Ortiz creates a safe space for dialogue on individual and collective issues. Through visual arts and painting, arts education, and filmmaking, Ortiz’s masterful storytelling reveals the strength and spirit of community.

Her documentary “Las Madres de Berk” chronicles four mothers and their children who were detained in The Berks County Residential Center, a family prison in Pennsylvania. This documentary amplifies the human rights violations taking place in these detention centers while humanizing the people who are often demonized in US news media. Through masterful storytelling, Ortiz reveals the strength and spirit of community, and the power of art to challenge injustice.

For information on how to screen “Las Madres de Berk” visit lasmadresdeberks.com

To learn more about Michelle’s artwork visit michelleangela.com and visit her on Instagram @michelleangelaortiz

Miranda Bergman

Miranda Bergman is a veteran of the community mural movement, transforming urban space by painting in the streets for over 40 years. Her murals stretch from various sites in the United States, to Mexico, Central America, and Palestine. They include “Maestrapeace”, the acclaimed mural on the San Francisco Women’s Building.   She loves how murals weave together the bright strands of artistry and social activism. A seasoned educator, she teaches visual arts and muralism to many constituencies. She taught K-8 art in Oakland Public Schools for many years, believing passionately in quality arts education for every child. Her artwork and essays have been published in over 30 books, and she appears in several films.  In addition to her collaborative work, her studio work includes paintings, drawings, sculptures, and mixed media works. 

Mincho Vega

Benjamin Rojas, also known as Mincho Vega was born in 1979 to parents who had immigrated to California from El Salvador and grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area. Benjamin is an arts educator, father and visual artist. After moving to Brooklyn in 2004, Benjamin has explored the world of ofrenda (altars for the ancestors) building and installation. His ofrendas have been portals for community healing and ancestral meditation each year they are built with a close group of community members and artists. In addition to installation art, Benjamin is an illustrator, painter, paper based artist and sculptor.

Follow Mincho Vega on Instagram @minchovega

EL MISFT

Influenced by artists such as Adan Hernandez, Chuco Moreno, and Chamuco Cortez, Oliver Chanax aka EL MISFT’s current body of work is based on pop culture and Latino/Mayan heritage. By drawing from his love of oldies, lowriders, Mayan culture, and San Francisco culture, he seeks to spread positivity and inspire younger generations through art.

Follow EL MISFT on Instagram @el_misft

O’Brien Thiele

Miranda Bergman & O’Brien Thiele

Culture Contains the Seed of Resistance, Which Blossoms into the Flower of Liberation (1984)

Acrylic paint on wall, Balmy Alley, Canvas print, 12″ x 18″ , NFS

Jim Prigoff, Photographer

Dr. Oriel Maria Siu

Dr. Oriel María Siu was born in San Pedro Sula, Honduras, in 1981. She is a proud daughter to a strong Salvadoran-Guatemalan-Pipil mother and Chinese-Nicaraguan father. In 1997, Dr. Siu had to leave her homeland for Los Angeles, California, where she helped establish the first Central American Studies Program in the nation. She obtained a Masters in Literature from UC Berkeley and a Doctoral degree in Cultural Studies from UCLA. Dr. Siu has since fought for, and helped maintain, U.S Ethnic Studies spaces, while teaching courses on race, immigration, and literature at several universities. For Dr. Siu, writing children’s books is necessary. She views each word as a border-smashing, anti-racist, decolonial act of love, and dedicates her books to all children of the Americas. She lives in Los Angeles and San Pedro Sula with her daughter, Suletu Ixakbal.

For information on how to buy Dr. Siu’s children’s book visit orielmariasiu.com/rebeldita and follow her on Instagram @dra.siu

OZI

By combining facets of his personal history, pop culture, and Mesofuturism, OZI’s work is a practice in agency and world building. Due to the cultural bombardment that was the 90s and his love for various art forms, ranging from comics to pyramids, he began developing his unrelenting pursuit of being an artist. With support and love from his friends and family he continues to achieve his childhood passion. It is about his friends, his lovers, his experiences, his emotions, his struggles, and most of all his never ending quest to make cool shit.

To learn more about OZI’s artwork visit feodome.bigcartel.com and follow him on Instagram @feodome

Rafael Arana

Born and raised in San Francisco, Rafael Arana, has been influenced by street art and muralism from the start. He learned the technical process of mural creation in high school, as a member of Precita Eyes’ Urban Youth Arts program. Arana is a graduate of UC-Santa Cruz with a BFA in Fine Art and the recipient of the Dean’s and Chancellor’s Award for a campus mural. After graduating, he quickly became the full-time in-house artist for Ken Fulk, an interior designer inSan Francisco whose work spans the globe. Arana’s work has been profiled in Architectural Digest, Elle Décor, Sunset, House Beautiful, Bon Appétit and Spaces magazine. Arana currently lives in San Francisco as a freelance artist.

To learn more about Rafael’s work visit rafaelaranaartist.com and follow him on Instagram @rafaelaranaartist

Rebeca Abidail Flores 

Rebeca Abidail Flores is a Salvadoreña and Mexican American artist from Fresno, CA. She has an MFA in Writing from the University of San Francisco. Her work is centered on ideas of work and play and how land interacts with culture and community. In her free time, she enjoys skateboarding & coloring books.

To learn more about Rebeca’s artwork visit floresrebeca.com and follow her on Instagram @vatopose

Rene Castro

Jos Sances & Rene Castro

Artists Call Against U.S. Intervention, (1984)

Silkscreen poster, San Francisco, 28″ x 20″,

Veronica Melendez

Veronica Melendez is a visual artist based between Troy, NY and Washington D.C. Through illustrations of iconic household products to photographs documenting the diaspora of Central Americans within the D.C. metro area, her work speaks to the broader theme of how we as humans create home. Having been raised in and around D.C within one of the largest Central American communities in the United States, her work gives a platform to a voice that is often marginalized and serves as a powerful reminder of the importance of culture and representation in art. Veronica is also a founder of La Horchata – an arts publication highlighting creatives from Central America and the Central American diaspora.

To learn more about Veronica’s artwork visit veromelen.com and follow her on Instagram @veromelen

Vero Majano

Vero Majano is a queer Latina artist and cultural worker born and raised in San Francisco’s Mission district. Her multimedia projects often include archival footage, film, photographs, collage, interviews, and storytelling that reinterpret and re-historicize Latino/a culture in the Mission.

Vero’s work creates spaces to assert and remember the queer and Latinx communities that shape one of the city’s most iconic but highly contested neighborhoods. In an area often seen as ground zero for the city’s tech-industry fueled hypergentrification, real estate speculation, and displacement, Vero’s work brings together longtime residents to remember with one another, in public, and for others to listen and learn from those memories.