What was the inspiration for the ILI Zines project?
César Ramos and I are both involved in the zine scene, particularly within (but not limited to) Latinx communities. We recognized the need to reflect over all of the things that were happening in the ILI experience, and as zine editors and those who enjoy providing a platform for voices, we saw it as an opportunity to create a series of publications. I kept a journal throughout my ILI experience, and it was incredibly helpful for me to be able to voice everything that was going on. It seemed right to make space for everyone to have the chance to externally reflect as well.
How did you see interculturality demonstrated in this project or the Zines themselves?
There’s something great about seeing how each individual got something different out of the convenings. I think it goes without saying that they strongly impacted each of us, but that of course varied for each person depending on our experiences, background, and our journey of growth that came with ILI. The zines became a space to give subjective perspective on one’s own culture or new understandings of another culture and the fact that we have so many shared experiences.
“There can be such a strength in vulnerability and opening up to express one’s self. . .”
What was the most surprising or meaningful thing you learned by doing this project?
There can be such a strength in vulnerability and opening up to express one’s self, whether it’s through poetry or any other means. I’m inspired by the free expression of the contributing fellows. Something that stands out is that in the last zine, we see a couple of the fellows dedicating their poetry to other fellows. What a beautiful gesture to have been so moved by the actions or words of someone to immediately want to make art about it!
How does this project connect to your own understanding of yourself as a leader?
I love being a solo studio artist, but I have this need to also lift up others in community–whether it’s making contributor-based zines or curating exhibits. Sometimes we need to put our egos on hold and create dialogue. I also find importance in sharing opportunity with artists who are underrepresented or might just need one opportunity to realize their own powerful artistry. We so often don’t see ourselves represented in the arts. So you realize if you don’t organize it, no one else will, and I think that is often the driving force for curators of color–refilling the gaps where we’ve been erased, or saying we exist and we’re making amazing art!
Is there anything else that you’d like people to know as they experience the Zines from each ILI intensive?
Know that this is just a glimpse into the ILI experience. Speaking for myself, ILI was an emotional rollercoaster, and I think there are a lot of experiences and lessons that may not be mentioned. It was an option to contribute to the zine series, and I really believe in the power of choice. But do know that a lot of amazing creators and organizer are not represented, so I urge you to look into the work of all ILI alum and support them as you’re able. <3