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Meet Kimberly Magana of La Colocha in San Fernando Valley

Today we’d like to introduce you to Kimberly Magana.

Kimberly, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
La Colocha was born from some of the darkest times in my life. In fact, La Colocha was born before I even knew that she was coming. I grew up in a single parent household. My mother was battling her own traumas, depression, financial instability, and needing to provide for two kids on her own. Overtime, we dealt with so much growing up. Into my adulthood, I battled with anxiety, self-harm, eating disorders, and depression. My art saved me and continues to save me. I was always searching for a place to belong, to be accepted, and to be heard. As a gordita Salvadoran American it was difficult to find such a place of belonging and acceptance. So I created La Colocha. In this platform, I speak and tell stories of my past, traumas, heartbreaks, self-love, body positivity, and mental health advocacy. Through La Colocha, I hope to empower other Salvadoran womxn to speak their truths and feel accepted for who they are.

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
It has not been a smooth road for La Colocha. I think that is true for any artist. Some of the struggles that I’ve had has been how to effectively financially run La Colocha. I have plenty of ideas on how to expand La Colocha and how to get my art to other people around the state, but money has been a huge setback. It takes a lot of financial investment and a lot time to maintain a platform. I have been successful with DIY tips for some of my art, but it is difficult to manage a platform and work full time. Capitalism is not friendly to people of color artists. In reality, we need to make sure we have money for rent and bills, which leads us with very little to support what truly makes us happy, our art. So I am still learning how to do the business/management part of this platform.

La Colocha – what should we know? What do you do best? What sets you apart from others?
I create poems, paintings, drawings, and zines that range from a variety of topics such as; managing anxiety, mental health, self-care tips, self-love, body positivity, experience as a Salvadoran American, and passing down stories told by my family about El Salvador. I mostly sell my zines, which I am very proud of. I have tabled at several events such as LA Zine Fest, Long Beach Zine Fest, Mujeres Market, and San Fernando Zine Fest. I have also lead a panel at LA Zine Fest where we spoke about mental health and womxn of color. It was a beautiful panel where every panelist was able to be vulnerable in front of a crowd of strangers. Being honest about their experience, or lack of, with therapy/nontraditional therapy.

Every time I see someone pick up my zines, their faces light up, and they say they’d like to support, it makes me feel like I am doing what I am supposed to be doing. Passing down knowledge and showing people that we shouldn’t be afraid to speak on our mental health needs or that our stretch marked soft bellies are not to be ashamed of. We are human beings who are allowed to change. We are allowed to make mistakes. We are allowed to reinvent ourselves. We are allowed to grow at our own pace. My art is proof of that. My growth is slow but steady. Everyday I am learning something new. My art reflects who I am and that is something I will always be proud of.

What moment in your career do you look back most fondly on?
This is a difficult question to answer. I have many proud moments. I think I’d like to share two top proud moments because, although they are pretty different, they are equally important. Number one, recently I was invited to perform some of my poems at Las Girls In Action poetry event (Dejalo Que Crezca) which was an event to help raise money for Central American womxn who are pursuing education. It was my first time every performing my poems. Once I got on stage though, it felt familiar. As if I have done this before. What I didn’t realize at the time was that I was doing the exact same thing my aunts, my mother, my grandmother, and all the womxn in my family have done for generations, storytelling. All of the womxn in my family are storytellers. I have been privileged enough to sit in front of the most interesting womxn.

All of them sharing what made them. The bloodshed and the beauty of their lives. I was doing the same on the mic. A few people came up to me after the event and told me that they really felt connected to my poetry. Some even cried because it was a mutual feeling of pain and joy we were having and that is something I will never forget. Number two, through my art I have implemented it at my current job at a middle school. I hold a class that meets once a week with a group of young girls and I teach them about self-care, self-love, body positivity, and a whole bunch of other wonderful things through arts. You know, I say that I teach them, which is true, but honestly every week they impress me on how much they practice vulnerability and hold safe space for each other. Their resilience is truly amazing. All I am doing is just providing them with a tool to help a little.

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Image Credit:
Johanna Romero

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