Poets have long inspired me to create images, and I have been honored to work with luminaries such as Genny Lim, Juan Felipe Herrera, Alice Walker, and Rafael Jesús Gonzalez. When I first heard Chinaka Hodge read her poem “All Power to the People: The Black Panthers at 50,” I was riveted.
Hers is the voice of West Oakland, the epicentre of revolution, cultural wealth, urban devastation and now, gentrification. Her TED talk, “What Will You Tell Your Daughters About 2016?”, is a call to arms, to resist the madness of the current era of rising fascism, racial hatred, gender discrimination, misogyny, and white supremacy. Hodge proclaims the birthright of women to create a more humane society, an intergenerational legacy to be sung frequently, whenever the odds seem too great.
My portrait of Chinaka Hodge, presenting the last line of the poem, connects the work of generations of women artists of color as cultural activists and leaders. The background of the image features a detail of Rigoberta Menchú Tum from the MAESTRAPEACE Mural on The San Francisco Women’s Building; seven women muralists, including myself, created this work.*
We painted the 1995 Nobel Peace Prize winner and Guatemalan human rights activist speaking out over the rooftops of the Mission District. A traditional Mesoamerican speech glyph emerges from her mouth, as in many Mayan and Aztec texts. In creating this piece for the Akonadi Foundation I seek to celebrate these connections among women in leadership and to inspire younger women to learn about them and become activists in their own right.
– Juana Alicia