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Meet Angélica Becerra

Today we’d like to introduce you to Angélica Becerra.

Angélica, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
I identify as a queer immigrant artist and femme, podcast producer & scholar of political graphics. I am originally from San Juan de Los Lagos Jalisco, I immigrated to Los Angeles with my mom and sister at the age of ten, we settled in the south bay, near Torrance. Currently, I am a Ph.D. candidate in Chicana/o Studies at UCLA and sell prints of my artwork online. My research focuses on the digital as a shift in the means of production, exhibition, and networking for contemporary Latinx artist-activists. I am the co-creator of the podcast “Anzaldúingit” along with Dr. Jack Caraves, where both of us focus on navigating life as queer Latinx individuals in academia. My artwork is primarily portraiture, with a focus on women and queer activists of color. My art has been featured in VICE and Latina Magazine and exhibited at the Social & Public Art Resource Center (SPARC) and the Santa Cruz Museum of Art & History.

I am passionate about helping artists foster their own agency when it comes to selling their work and making a living from their art practice. As I began to sell my work, I realized that the business side of being an artist is not talked about enough. I did a lot of learning as I went, and have been outspoken about figuring out things like pricing and determining your rates. My commitment is to artists, and I continue to advocate for fair compensation for creative labor.

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
One of the first barriers as a migrant to the U.S. was, of course, language. I also experienced intense bullying when I was younger and was called derogatory terms like “wetback” by classmates. As a result, I often kept my drawing and painting to myself, for fear of judgment.

Another obstacle that I think is important for the context of my journey is validating my art practice to my family, who although supportive, saw my art as a hobby and not a vital part of my life that could earn money and help support me. When I first started my selling my prints online, it took years for the income to come in, I lost a lot of money in the beginning but kept on learning and adjusting until I felt comfortable.

Another challenge as a working artist has been learning how to work on commissions and campaigns with organizations, this process was a mystery to me at first, and I did not have the network of artist I do now, I learned the hard way that If you’re not clear about your terms, you will be taken advantage of.

Please tell us more about your art.
I sell Museum-quality prints of my artwork on my website, I wanted to make high-quality work accessible to my community because I want to encourage Latinx art lovers to collect artwork and support artists in tangible ways.

My artwork is primarily portraiture and focuses on Black Indigenous and People of Color icons and important figures that we may not learn about in traditional education pathways. For example, Audre Lorde, Angela Davis, or Gloria Anzaldua.

I am proud that my work gets to be in people’s homes and sacred spaces, I am proud that it encourages others to remember their worth.

What were you like growing up?
I grew up with a large family in the countryside of Jalisco, Mexico. My family was an incredible influence on my development as an artist. My grandfather Juan was a master carpenter who specialized in mesquite wood carving and flooring, he worked with local churches and did beautiful geometric work, although he never called himself an artist, I recognized now that he was one of the first people I knew who had a studio/workshop space. The second was my aunt Elvira who attended school for architecture and is a painter. Her painting studio was a room in my grandfather’s house, and she taught me the basics of painting at a young age. Personality-wise, I have always been introverted with others and very extroverted with family and friends, and very curious.

As I mentioned earlier, after the age of ten I had a hard time adjusting socially to my new home in the U.S. and left a large family support network, naturally, I felt very isolated and used art as a coping mechanism. During my undergraduate at CSULB in Chicana/o Studies and Film, I leaned into my artmaking and used it as a way to connect social justice issues I was passionate about. It was during this time that I saw the potential of making work that spoke to injustice.

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