J. Andrea Porras / yAyA is a Queer, Two -Spirit, Coahuiltecan descendant ~ ChicanIndia, madre, cultura cura curator/producer, intersectional artist/ practitioner; with over 25 years experience in performance, organizing, facilitation, grant making, grant reviewing, philanthropy, and mentoring. Porras, began their performative journey as a roller skating waiter edutaining and serving up Tex -Mex campo to mesa cuisine at her familia’s restaurant Amezcua’s, located in their beloved home barrio and birth place of San Felipe, Del Rio Tejas. It was from there that they witnessed and began to really trust: We Got Us, when her parents y comunidad pulled together support for two other dance companeras y ella to accept their opportunity to travel hasta Hong Kong, China as young Americana dance art ambassadors. Once there, they had the honor to perform and exchange cultural dance experiences with multiple communities. From then on and now 4 decades later, they continue on their Charcoal Foot Travels as relative and guest upon Sacred Indigenous Lands through commissions, invitations, collaborations, research, both self and grant funded; site specific installations, ritual performance, teatro y flor y canto movimiento.
Porras earned their B.A. degree from California State University Sacramento, Theatre Dance and Cultural Anthropology Departments, where they specialized in Black, Indigenous, and Chicano Theatre. They focused on acting, improv movement, producing and video documenting. Porras dedicated their early years at CSUS recruiting hundreds of first generation students from Sacramento high schools. They were recruited by the Education Opportunity Program as a student teacher / peer mentor in Ethnic Studies, Acting, Chicano Theatre, Cultural Anthropology and African- Caribbian Dance. Simultaneously, Porras spent years as an artist in resident at elementary and middle schools in Sacramento, funded by The Sacramento Metropolitan Arts Commission. They studied, taught, performed and participated in Inter-Tribal ceremonies as an Afro- Caribbian, Danza Mexika traditional dancer predominantly connecting and building in Northern California across through the Southwest, and later in Cuba, Mexico, Africa and NY. They crossed over from teaching artist and community cultural producer to Arts administrator and philanthropy focus in joining the Sacramento Metropolitan Arts Commission. They served as the cities Arts Education coordinator and later Co founded, Directed and Facilitated a Roots, Altars and Movement course at World Arts Space. The WAS project brought together 8 artists for an 8 weeks 8 hours a day offering free and accessible Arte y Cultura . A community residency/ building relations with 100 emerging youth artists through an all immersive arts training safe space embedded in the community of Oak Park in the Summers of 2004 & 05.
Porras also served as a community development organizer, with Mutual Housing of California. In their 4 year term, they created civic leadership engagement and arts and cultural revival pop ups workshops in multiple incredibly diverse and intergenerational family subsidized housing communities they served in through out the Sacramento region. Later came the call to action in serving as manager, community and art gallery curator at Taller Arte del Nuevo Amanacer, founded by Malaquias Montoya and Carlos Jackson, and directed by Maceo Montoya. TANA is based in the rural community of Woodland CA. Mentored by Malaquias, and leading an amazing and talented mentee /student/ artist staff, they collectively recruited and grew new generations of political poster makers on the satellite location for the University of California at Davis Chicana/o Studies Department. Porras recently exited their 5 year role as Arts Grant Specialist for the California Arts Council, where they managed a portfolio totaling approximately $7 million in funding per year. Currently they stand for love, dignity and transformation as an agent for BIPOC communities as a member of the Caltrans Office of Race and Equity; Native American Liaison Branch Headquarters. They are a graduate of the 2004 NALAC Leadership Institute as well as an invited peer for the 2017 Advocacy Leader Institute, They are currently attending IAIA as a student in the Native American Art History certificate program. Porras, co-founded Movimiento Molcajete (1997) Contemporary Indigenous Teatro Co. & MA Series Arts (2018), a 501c3 non-profit which serve as an incubator platform for BIPOC artists — prioritizing women, Queer of Color and Trans Familia. They are proud mama of JAH’Sol Amaru Porras.