Melanie Cervantes

Melanie Cervantes (Xicana) has never lived far from the California Coast having been born in Harbor City, California and raised in a small city in the South Bay of Los Angeles. Now making her home in the San Francisco Bay Area she creates visual art that is inspired by the people around her and her communities’ desire for radical change and social transformation.
In 2007 she co-founded Dignidad Rebelde, a graphic arts collaboration that produces screen prints, political posters and multimedia projects that are grounded in Third World and indigenous movements that build people’s power to transform the conditions of fragmentation, displacement and loss of culture that result from histories of colonialism, genocide, and exploitation. Dignidad Rebelde’s purpose is to translate the stories of struggle and resistance into artwork that can be put back into the hands of the communities who inspire it.
Melanie has exhibited at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts (San Francisco); National Museum of Mexican Art (Chicago); Mexic-Arte and Guadalupe Cultural Arts Center (Austin, TX); and Museum of Modern Art (New York, NY). Her art is known worldwide reaching Egypt, Brazil, Mexico, Thailand, Slovenia, Palestine, Venezuela, Switzerland, Colombia, India and Guatemala. Her work is in public collections of the Center for the Study of Political Graphics, the Latin American Collection of the Green Library at Stanford, and the Library of Congress and the as well as various private collections throughout the U.S. She holds a BA in Ethnic Studies from the University of California, Berkeley.
Melanie’s instagram



Indigenous Women Defending Land, wheatpaste by Melanie Cervantes, Unceded Voices 2015
“As individuals, as organizations, as communities or as a people, Indigenous women continually prove their strength in the face of threat and adversity. Our responses show that we are not passive victims of oppression but fierce actors in the indigenous peoples’ struggles for survival. We have formed organizations and networks. They have initiated community-based projects to respond to basic needs of our people. We have been in the forefront of numerous actions of indigenous peoples to defend our land, our lives and our livelihood. We mixed in a piece by Lianne Charlie and Lindsay Katsitsakatste Delaronde which reads Tiotia:ke, the Mohawk name for “Montreal” which means where the currents meet. I am also repping Jesus Barraza’s Tierra Indigena in this wheatpaste mural. “



Aiako’nikonhraién:ta’ne’, mural collaboration by Melanie Cervantes and Lindsay Katsitsakatste Delaronde, Unceded Voices 2015
 ” Thank you to @yoselinmx for sitting for this piece. We talked about yearning for the languages of our indigenous abuelas and what it means to define who we are today. This piece also celebrates the knowledge that is so common that we forget it is rooted in indigenous wisdom. The maguey plant (agave) is well known for giving us tequila and mescal bit did you know it can also be used as fiber for hammocks, carpets, fishnets, and rope as well as clothing, food and a healing agent that kills e coli and staph? It was mashed into paper to make codices! The books that the Spaniards burned when they invaded these lands. This knowledge is so close and common yet we some times can’t account for it. We are so close we look past it. Like trying to chase a rainbow which is the reflection of light in droplet of water we just have to stop, pay attention and look at things with the right angle to see them. Aiako’nikonhraién:ta’ne’ is a Mohawk word that translates to- to come to understand and that is what man of us Xicanxs are working so diligently to do against the violence of forgetting that colonialism pushes us toward. To understand who we are and where we come from.”

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