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Check Out Yaneli Delgado’s Story

Today we’d like to introduce you to Yaneli Delgado.

Hi Yaneli, so excited to have you with us today. What can you tell us about your story?
I was born and raised in South Central Los Angeles. I had an interest in art since I was in third grade. I vividly remember Mr. Castañeda was teaching the class about Diego Rivera and had us choose a painting to draw using the grid method. This was probably the earliest memory I have and when my interest in art began. It was an on and off relationship for some years. I began to take art a little serious in high school when my art teacher, Mr. Garcia used a different approach from other teachers. He taught us the importance of having our own stories told through art while also incorporating ethnic studies. I began to have an interest in learning about my culture and history. I firmly believe his teaching taught me to think critically of my process and the stories I want to tell through my work. I stopped drawing and painting after I graduated high school. However, I kept in touch with my teacher and he became my mentor and a close friend. I went off to study Sociology and Spanish at UC Santa Barbara. While being there, I began to connect with local artists and helped them with a couple of murals in Isla Vista and the Westside of Santa Barbara.

After I graduated, I decided to move back to South Central. I was not sure what I wanted to do but I wanted to give back to the community, I was just not sure how. I started working at LA City College as a Spanish instructor for Community Services. While being there, I was trying to figure out what I wanted to do, I attended a free printmaking workshop that was facilitated by Ernesto Vazquez at El Mercado La Paloma. This was my first time learning about the printmaking process. I loved it and I decided I wanted to learn at home. I was working at LACC and teaching myself the basics of printmaking. Unsure with everything that I was doing at the time, I was still not satisfied with what I wanted to do. I stayed at LACC for a few years and decided I wanted to help the youth in my neighborhood. I got hired to work alongside my high school art teacher, Mr. Garcia as a teacher assistant. He encouraged me to go back to school and apply for the art education teacher credential program at CSU Long Beach. I applied and got accepted. This was just the beginning of my journey as an artist. I began to take my art seriously. While being at CSULB, I had the opportunity to meet some amazingly talented printmakers. I also met one of my favorite printmakers, Álvaro Márquez who I followed on Instagram a few years prior meeting him on campus. I really admire him and his work and I have been fortunate to have him as a mentor alongside with Dr. Garcia. Both of them inspire me every time I create a new work of art.

I’m sure you wouldn’t say it’s been obstacle free, but so far would you say the journey have been a fairly smooth road?
Not at all. I tell myself, “If there is no struggle then you are not putting in work.” I honestly opened an Instagram art account to share my personal drawings, not really caring what others thought about it. I kept going back and forth with pictures of drawings and random pictures I would take on a daily basis. When I decided to open an Etsy account, I only sold one of my first prints. I was happy because I sold it. Sometimes I would give them away because it is something I tend to do. I just wanted to improve my artistic skills and feel confident when teaching to high school students. While being at CSULB, I took two relief printing classes with Roxanne Sexauer. I learned so much from her when it came down to the techniques. This allowed me to challenge myself which is something I tell myself each time I create a new print. I would stay up until three or four in the morning working on a print. I would arrive home to get ready to go to work and then go back to campus to finish my prints and attend my art education courses.

My journey has not been easy but I do not complain because it has taught me that this is what artists in school go through. Not only that, being a first-generation college graduate who thought of becoming a social worker at some point, but changing paths by going into art and art education has not been easy. My prints empower me and people in my community, specially the youth. I never imagined myself showing my work in art galleries or academic scholars buying my work. I have been fortunate that my high school art teacher, Dr. Garcia and Álvaro introduced me to the Self Help Graphics family. This was just a foot into the door. I have met some great artists that I admire so much and that I look up to. I can say I have found a new family in the arts and I am so grateful to be surrounded by artists who inspire emerging artists like myself.

Alright, so let’s switch gears a bit and talk business. What should we know about your work?
While I enjoy making prints and drawing when I get the chance, I also enjoy working with the youth. I am happy to be at my former high school teaching some young and talented artists who for some, they already have a passion for the arts. Although what I teach them is drawing, I hope that in the near future I can introduce them to printmaking and lead them to many possibilities and opportunities in the arts. I started off by making small prints not really knowing what I was doing. However, as the years pass and I had the opportunity to take some classes, I have enjoyed creating large prints. I am a work in progress and I am not where I want to be yet, so there is still so much to learn. I want to continue to take courses that will challenge me to get better at what I do. While my work is influenced by my culture, I also use my experiences and everything I have learned in my undergrad courses. My artwork reflects identity, culture, and history. I am proud of all the work I have done in the past two years. Two of the things I am proud of was having one of my prints at an exhibition at Self Help Graphics and having my first solo show at Casa 0101, the same place where I displayed some of my very first prints. I am forever grateful to everyone who believed in my work.

Is there something surprising that you feel even people who know you might not know about?
Something surprising that most people who know me is that I like to read books and poetry, watch documentaries and finding gems on Spotify. These are some of the components that also inspire my work. I’d like to say that I am a lifelong learner. I like learning about nature, different cultures, nahulismo, and anything of my interests. Some of my favorite topics are the Mexican Revolution, the Toltec and Mexica philosophies of life, social movements, and anything that has to do with printmaking.

Contact Info:

Image Credits:

Personal photo – Rubí Hernandez

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