Saturday, May 26, 2012


I have just finished curating my prints at Self Help Graphics (SHG). That's right - my prints. I can hardly believe it, I'm an artist! It seems so strange to refer to myself as an artist, but that is what I am and it's time to own it. When I was a young woman, it took me a long time to refer to myself as a musician. I always felt like I had to qualify it by saying that I was a "punk musician," as though I was somehow a less-worthy version of a "musician" but punk eventually taught me a valuable lesson: it's not technique but what you do with your creativity that matters most.

About a month ago, I received an email invitation from my friend Shizu Saldamando. She was curating an Atelier at SHG in East LA and wanted to know if I would like to be one of the 10 participating artists. My first reaction was "I'm not an artist," followed quickly by "what's an Atelier?" Shizu explained that this would be a sort of mini-apprenticeship with a master printer where I would receive one-on-one instruction in the fine art of Serigraphy, a form of silkscreening. "It's easy," she assured me and so, without having the vaguest notion of what a serigraph was or exactly how I would go about creating one, I accepted the challenge.

The next couple of weeks were filled with that creeping feeling of worry that you get when you have a deadline approaching but don't quite know where to begin. I started reading about serigraphy online but I still had no idea how I would create the color separations needed for the project, until one day when I was talking to my friend Martin Sorrondeguy and he mentioned that he taught graphic arts. I had a million questions for him and even called him late one night to ask him to talk me through creating color layers in Photoshop. Martin was a wonderfully patient teacher and before long, I felt like I had a good understanding of the techniques.

The concept for my design was an imaginary album cover for Castration Squad. It's a glimpse into the female experience through the punk aesthetic. I called my piece Inevitable.

When I got to SHG earlier this week, my colors were separated and I was ready for my time with master printmaker Jose Alpuche. There was a lot to do over the course of several days and the process took longer than I had anticipated but I learned so much and felt truly honored to have been selected. Today, as I was curating my prints, I felt an enormous sense of accomplishment.

Executive Director, Evonne Gallardo and Program Manager, Joel Garcia conveyed a strong spirit of community involvement. They made me feel like Self Help Graphics was there for me and I assured them that I was there for Self Help Graphics. It's such a positive place for artists, students and members of the community that my final day of curating was bittersweet. I am happy to be done with my print so that I can focus on my upcoming Violence Girl readings but I will miss my extended Self Help family. I left vowing to return soon. After all, I'm an artist now!

My print, Inevitable will be available for purchase at Self Help Graphics or through the Self Help Graphics website.

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