J. Andrea Porras / yAyA is a Queer, 2Spirit, Coahuiltecan descendant Chicana, madre of JAH’Sol Amaru, 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 local Bordertown haven/ restaurant. Amezcua’s was located in their beloved barrio and birthplace of San Felipe, Del Rio Tejas.
They have been offering intersectional multimedia arte between edutainment and story sharing, storytelling ceremonias through solo and collaborations for over 25 years.. Porras’ brings viewers into the past, present and future via Charcoal Foot Travels spoken palabra and improvs, teatro y movimiento as relative and guest upon Sacred Indigenous Lands 4 decades and counting. They are self and community funded as well as an honored culture bearer via commissions, grants, invitations, research, opportunities. Porras también curates visual exhibitions, creates site specific installations, ritual performance, teatro y flor y canto movimiento. Most recently Current Classy Broadway Curatorial Resident in Oak Park, Sacramento.
Porras earned their B.A. degree from California State University Sacramento, Theater Dance and Cultural Anthropology Departments, where they specialized in Black, Indigenous, and Chicano/a Theater.. They focused on acting, improv movement, playwriting, 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 Theater, Cultural Anthropology and African- Caribbean Dance. Simultaneously, Porras spent years as an artist in residence 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- Caribbean, 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 8 weeks 8 hours a day offering free and accessible Arte y Cultura . An intergenerational community Artist and apprentice 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 $9 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 MA Series Arts nonprofit 2018: dedicated to support, performance, research & practice by women y queers of color, honoring the full spectrum of cultural and gender identities.