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Rising Stars: Meet Anahi Ibarra

Today we’d like to introduce you to Anahi Ibarra.

Hi Anahi, we’d love for you to start by introducing yourself.
I grew up between the streets of Injustice and Community. Right where beauty and struggle meet. I’m from an area known as South Central, Los Angeles. I was raised by a single mother in a multi-family household where we were often 10-15 people deep living in two-bedroom apartments, all too familiar with food and housing insecurity. Drug abuse and domestic violence were my childhood companions. You see, there is a certain duality that comes with being from a place like South Central. I could talk all day long about the trauma and hurt that comes from the death and violence in our community. I could talk all day long about the history of redlining and how it perpetuates the injustices that we see till this day. I could talk about our underfunded schools, the policing of our neighborhoods, the racial profiling, the lack of resources. I can talk all day long about the stereotypes and how they hurt. I could talk all day long about the pain I feel every time I see candles, balloons and teddy bears on the streets – I guess it’s true when people say we are the roses that grow from concrete. But here is the thing, there is also an unspoken narrative about places like South Central that many people do not get to hear. It is the tale of hardworking street vendors providing for their families. It is the tale of how the community shows up for one another just like they did when Nipsey died. It is the selfless people in the community, always willing to give when they have little to nothing. It is the community leaders who fight against injustice with a passion because they know it all too well. It is the tale of the artistic and creative expression that comes from the hood and that other people like to steal. It is two tales of one city, and that duality is what made me. That duality is what raised me. That duality is why I do the things I do and why I am the way I am. I’m an artist, a writer, a poet, a storyteller and a teacher from South Central and my work is very personal to me because of my upbringing. I tell stories through my art because I believe it builds community and I believe that there is power in that- especially in a world that tries to divide us. Especially in a system that thrives off of our self-doubt. I do what I do because I believe in the power of connecting with one another and healing through one another.

I love being able to show up for my Black and Brown babies every day in ways that people did not show up for me when I was younger and in ways that people did. I got through what I went through, being in and out of homelessness, because of the teachers and mentors that showed up for me. They knew the hands I was dealt and they knew that it was unfair and that it still is unfair. In my work, I like to express South Central in the way that I know it to be – in its duality and complexity and beauty. It’s like I always say, don’t judge a hood by its headlines because we are much more than that. I like to share my story in the hopes that someone out there can resonate with it and feel seen, heard, and validated. I do it to show that we have much more in common than we do apart and that is what humanity is all about. To show my kids that I teach that yes you can achieve anything you put your mind to and that yes you can create beautiful things. And those beautiful things will inspire the next person to create more beautiful things… that’s how I got to where I am today. It took a lot of people believing in me but most importantly it took me believing in myself and believe me when I say that it’s hard to do that when you grow up in a system that thrives off of self-hatred. Just like Nipsey said, the highest human act you can do is to inspire. That is the mission and vision I have.

We all face challenges, but looking back would you describe it as a relatively smooth road?
There have definitely been some bumps along the way in my journey. I think the biggest challenge that I’m still learning how to navigate is believing in my own vision and believing that I can pursue my passions. I’m an up-and-coming artist who just recently started selling paintings and doing commissions but I see myself doing things on a larger scale and making a greater impact such as painting murals across the city, hosting art workshops for inner-city youth, writing and illustrating books that share my story, writing poetry, etc. My world and mindset used to be so small so it’s hard to know that I deserve to dream big. Even though it’s challenging, the process has taught me a lot about loving myself and knowing my worth.

As you know, we’re big fans of you and your work. For our readers who might not be as familiar what can you tell them about what you do?
I am an artist, poet, storyteller, and teacher from South Central, Los Angeles. These are all passions of mine that allow me to build community and create an impact on those around me. In regards to my art, I specialize in Acrylic paintings and most people tend to commission portraits from me. When I am not working on art projects, I enjoy writing poetry about my personal experiences and societal issues- most of these are self-published poems that you can find on different websites but I have also been published in Research Journals and poetry books. I consider myself a storyteller because I have a powerful voice and it has allowed me to take advantage of opportunities such as being a Keynote and guest speaker for many events.

One of my proudest moments has to be when I received a message from a stranger on Instagram asking me if she can use a poem of mine to present in her college class. The assignment was to present on a poem that the students deeply resonated with and she chose to present on the poem “Freedom is Not Free.” She even made a portrait of me to present with her slides and it made me feel so touched.

Who else deserves credit in your story?
I always like to say that I am community made because of the amount of support and encouragement I received from my community. I have a couple of friends and mentors who tell me every day just how dope I am and how I need to stop selling myself short. These friends and mentors have given me opportunities to tap into my creativity and to explore who I am as an artist and I think it’s helped a lot with developing this passion. If it wasn’t for their constant words of encouragement and for the opportunities they have given me to show what I can do, I don’t think I would have pursued this in the first place.


  • Commissioned Portraits: $200-$500

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