Press Release

Wednesday, December 16, 2009 - 11:23am
Interview with Favianna Rodriguez

Oakland Museum of California (OMCA):
Why an art wall?

Rodriguez: The project is a great way to showcase Oakland's diversity and its emerging
artists. As the Museum rethinks its role in the community, the art wall walks
the talk. It's inclusive: 20 artists' expressions of youth, protest, history,
fantasy, hipsters, and queers.

Your history with the Oakland Museum
of California?

I've worked
with staff to bring the community to the Museum and engage them via appropriate
exhibitions-Días de los Muertos and The African Presence in Mexico. OMCA can seem inaccessible, cold
from the outside. This installation takes the Museum to the public during the

 The wall's message?
It embodies
the new vision for OMCA: a community gathering place. California leads the nation
in cutting-edge legislation on the environment and gay rights; its food-justice
programs are widely adopted. My role as curator was to find artists whose work
reflects the changes going on at the Museum and beyond.

 What made you want to create a mural
with these artists?

I chose artists
tackling the state's issues who are also engaged on the national level. I
wanted to bring together their diversity of experience, age, and issues-from nature
and goddesses to the Black Panthers, Cesar Chavez, hip hop, and the comedian Cantinflas.

 What do you see in the art wall?
The intersection
of races and strong representation of women, as artists and subjects. The bold
colors play an important role. California is known for its sunshine. I wanted
to reflect our climate and optimism.

What do you hope others will see, as
they pass by?

I want people
to see themselves in the mural. It's about the Americanization of immigrants
and how people and races integrate. I wanted to represent all communities and
locals. The artists are from LA, the Central Valley, and the greater Bay Area.
Some are first generation; many are of mixed race. I was also able to feature women
artists, who are often under-represented.

 Your work has taken you all over the
world, yet Oakland remains your home.
What keeps you here?
This year
I've consulted in Mexico City, Tokyo, Rome, Vancouver, and Lima. Oakland's innovative
arts community and history of progressive social policies are second to none. Oakland
is my home; I'm committed to the changes going on here.

20 November