Downtown photo exhibit features students and their maestras

Photo by Carlos Duarte

Loss, resistance and the role of educators in times of violence and change. That’s the theme of La Maestra, the second art show at Crear Studio, a new community space in Downtown Santa Ana that showcases work by and for BIPOC.

As the founder of LibroMobile and Barrio Writers, Crear Studio Director Sarah Rafael Garcia has a history of collaborating with local creators and developing spaces to cultivate diversity. Along with Lisa Alvarez, her former professor from Irvine Valley College, Garcia centered this exhibit around one of Alvarez’s most intense works: Falda de Ayotzinapa.

The falda, or skirt, is a functional art piece made of dozens of newspaper clippings and informational posters. Get closer and you realize that each bears the face and name of 43 students kidnapped and murdered in 2014 while on their way to a protest in Iguala, Mexico.

Alvarez would wear the falda to protests, but decided during the pandemic to hang it up, and allow others to appreciate it at the same time. La Maestra was born.

Other pieces were handpicked by Juliana Rico, a photography teacher and practitioner who taught at Santa Ana College. She mentored many of the Santa Ana artists featured during her time at SAC.

Each piece in La Maestra spurs conversation.

Former SAC student Daisy Monroy Lopez was mentored by Rico and has been practicing photography since she was 15. Her piece, “As The World Caves In,” depicts a globe engulfed in flames. To Lopez, the work represents a never-ending battle between humanity and nature.

“It’s a commentary on the current state of our planet,” Lopez said. “It’s how climate change and some of our decisions can affect the planet and how they are made from home.”

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Other former SAC photo students featured in the show include Maximiliano Maldonado and Carlos Duarte. Their photos range from fiery protest images to stylized portraits of Maldonado’s father.

Garcia, Rico and Alvarez all agree that educators and students play a big part in societal change. Rico says she encourages her students to step out of their comfort zone.

“Teachers do more than teach. They create leaders in our community,” Garcia said. “They preserve history and they inspire us to do more than just exist.”

La Maestra runs through Nov. 15 during exhibition hours and by appointment at 222 W. 5th St.

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