Favianna Rodriguez

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Favianna Rodriguez (born September 26, 1978) is an American artist with Afro-Peruvian roots. Rodriguez got her start as a political poster designer in the 1990s' in the struggles for racial justice in Oakland, California. Rodriguez is known for using her art as an activism tool. She designs posters ranging from a variety of different issues including globalization, immigration, feminism, patriarchy,interdependence, and genetically modified foods.[1][2] She has self-identified herself as Latina. Over the last few years Rodriguez has been able to make a name out of herself by having her work exhibited not only nationally but internationally as well.


Rodriguez was born and raised in the predominantly Latino neighborhood of Fruitvale in east Oakland, California. She was raised by her parents who migrated from Peru to California in the late 1960s.[3] Rodriguez came from a family where her parents did not have a college education, however they worked hard to make sure that she had the best education that was possible for her. Art was always something important in Rodriguez's life and from a young age she was able to win art contests and appear on Spanish television shows sharing her art.[3][4] At age 12 she briefly moved to Mexico City to avoid corruption and negative influences in Oakland. Rodriguez resided with her aunt during this time, but then began to rent a room from an elderly lady after that did not work out. During Rodriguez's time in Mexico city she discovered Frida Kahlo and was immediately inspired as she felt she could relate to her.

By the age of 15 Rodriguez returned to the United States to her hometown of Oakland.[5] Although her parents were supportive of her art they pushed Rodriguez to pursue a career in medicine or engineering.[5][3]


Growing up Rodriguez began her schooling at Centro Infantil De La Raza. She later went on to attend Lazear Elementary, St. Leanders Catholic School, El Instituto Technologico de Monterey, and Skyline High School.

After graduating from Hunters lane High School in 1996 Rodriguez received numerous amounts of scholarships and was accepted into the University of California Berkeley.[5] While at UC Berkley Rodriguez met Chicana artist Yreina Cervantes. Cervantes introduced Rodriguez to print making and this is when Rodriguez began to further develop her passion. She ultimately decided to leave UC Berkeley at age 20. Rodriguez has indicated that while at Berkeley she felt she was following her parents goals and not hers.[3]


Rodriguez began to develop her passion for social activism through the experiences she encountered growing up in Oakland. She began to notice institutional racism take place and decided to organize around these issues as well as help organize students in her school.[3] To this day Rodriguez has shown her passion for this, most recently through the migration is beautiful campaign.[6] According to Rodriguez here parents were migrants who struggled with the English language, she recalls instances where they we were called “monkeys” and other racist things. She also experienced certain things in her community such as sexual violence, gangs, and drug use. Being from the Bay Area Rodriguez had easy access to organizers who were fighting these issues.[4] Rodriguez also began to notice that she did not see positive images of herself as a woman of color in the media.[3] The awareness of the artist ultimately led her to begin organizing around social issues at a young age.

Her illustrations have become synonymous with grassroots efforts to defend a variety of issues ranging from Ethnic Studies, immigrant and women’s rights, affirmative action to patriarchy, interdependence, and youth activism. Rodriguez is renowned for her bold posters against racism and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. More recently she has become renowned for her immigration posters and collaborating campaigns such as migration is beautiful.[7] Whether handmade or printed en masses, her prints reflect new subjects, new ways of seeing, and the impact people can have on their conditions. Rodriguez's artwork has also been a way for her to explore her sexuality as she has recently come out as queer.[4]

Philanthropies and organizations[edit]

Rodriguez is also co-founder of Tumis Inc., a bilingual design studio providing graphics, web, and technology development for social justice. Rodriguez travels extensively to collaborate with organizations interested in using political graphics and the Internet to promote community building and social change.

She also is a co-founder of East Side Alliance Arts center which is a cultural center and an organization of artists and community organizers that promote community sustainability through political and cultural awareness and leadership development to support a unique living space that improves our communities and advocates for progressive, systemic social change.[8]

In 2003, she helped establish the Taller Tupac Amaru print studio to promote the practice of screenprinting among California-based artists. Through these programs, Rodriguez has mentored dozens of emerging young artists, and helped establish a multi-use arts facility in the heart of working-class East Oakland.

Rodriguez has lectured at over 200 schools widely on the use and power of art in civic engagement and the work of artists who, like herself, are bridging the community and museum, the local and international. She also lectures on cultural organizing and technology to inspire social change, and leads art workshops at schools around the country.[2] A few of the many schools Rodriguez has lectured at include UC Santa Cruz, Stanford, Michigan State, and Syracuse University.


The young thriving artist has a variety of influences for her work. These influences include the Chicano Movement and feminist art of the 1970s and 1980s. Artists that influence Favianna Rodriguez include: Ester Hernandez, Yolanda Lopez, Rufino Tamayo, Rupert Garcia, Romare Bearden, Pablo Picasso, Taller de Grafica Popular, Ospaaal, Wangechi Mutu, Frida Kahlo, Swoon (artist) who is a street artist, and Malaquias Montoya.


Rodriguez has worked closely with artists in Mexico, Europe, and Japan, and her works appear in collections at Bellas Artes (Mexico City), The Glasgow Print Studio (Glasgow, Scotland), and Los Angeles County Museum of Art (Los Angeles). Favianna is also a member of the Justseeds Cooperative and has partnered with Pharrel Williams' i am OTHER YouTube Channel to create a new three partdocumentary series titled "Migration is Beautiful".[7] The Migration is Beautiful Campaign has been supported by many influential scholars such as Junot Diaz, Julia Alvarez, and Steve Earle amongst many others.

Her other most recent projects are against rape and violence against women, the Artist vs.Walmart, and expanding Migration is Beautiful.

Rodriguez partners with social movement groups around the world to create art that’s visionary, inspirational, radical and, most importantly, transformational. When Favianna is not making art, she is directing CultureStrike, a national arts organization that engages artists, writers and performers in migrant rights. In 2009, she co-founded Presente.org, a national online organizing network dedicated to the political empowerment of Latino communities.[2]

The butterfly motif[edit]

Rodriguez has said “The butterfly symbol was not my idea. Immigrant rights activists have seen the butterfly as a symbol of fluid and peaceful migration for generations. To me, the monarch butterfly represents the dignity and resilience of migrants, and the right that all living beings have to move freely. I believe that we shouldn’t allow our identity to be defined only by our suffering, nor by the actions that others have taken to devalue our families and our labor -- rather, let us celebrate our beauty, pride, and resilience in the face of inequality and injustice.”[3]

In 2008, Rodriguez was named one of Utne Reader magazine’s “50 Visionaries Who Are Changing the World".[9]

Awards and honors[edit]

  • 2012 Emerging Leader Award, Chicana Latina Foundation, San Francisco, CA
  • 2011 Recipient of the Creative Work Fund Award, San Francisco, CA
  • 2011 Recipient of Innovation Grant, Center for Cultural Innovation, Los Angeles, CA
  • 2010 Inducted into Women’s Hall of Fame (Alameda County) in Arts & Culture, Alameda County, CA
  • 2009 Recipient of OPEN Foundation Individual Artist Grant, Oakland, CA
  • 2008 Named one of the countries leading 50 visionaries by UTNE Magazine
  • 2008 Sister of Fire Award, Women of Color Resource Center, Oakland, CA
  • 2007 Recipient of the Belle Foundation Individual Artist Award, San Jose, CA
  • 2005 Art Is A Hammer Award from the Center for the Study of Political Graphics, CA


In the US
  • Museo del Barrio (New York)
  • de Young Museum (San Francisco)
  • Mexican Fine Arts Center (Chicago)
  • Yerba Buena Center for the Arts (San Francisco)
  • Sol Gallery (Providence, RI)
  • Huntington Museum and Galería Sin Fronteras (Austin, TX)
  • the House of Love & Dissent (Rome)
  • Parco Museum (Tokyo)

In addition, her works have been displayed in England, Belgium, and Mexico. She was a 2005 artist-in-residence at San Francisco's de Young Museum, a 2007-2008 artist-in-residence at Kala Art Institute (Berkeley, CA), and received a 2006 Sea Change Residency from the Gaea Foundation (Provincetown, MA). Rodriguez is recipient of a 2005 award from the Center for the Study of Political Graphics.[10]


  1. ^ "Favianna Rodriguez". KQED Public Media for Northern CA. July 2007. Retrieved 2013-12-22. 
  2. ^ a b c "Biography". Favianna.tumblr.com. Retrieved 2013-12-22. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f g Leal, Samantha (January 18, 2013). "Favianna Rodriguez Talks Immigration, Rosario Dawson and Her New Web Series". Latina. Retrieved 2013-12-22. 
  4. ^ a b c Vasquez, Tina (2013). "Artist Statement". Bitch. Retrieved 2013-12-22. 
  5. ^ a b c Cohen, Susan (July 1, 2009). "Favianna and the New Print Revolution". East Bay Express. Retrieved 2013-12-22. 
  6. ^ "Migration is Beautiful". Migration is Beautiful. Retrieved 2013-12-22. 
  7. ^ a b Brooks, Katherine (2013-01-26). "'Migration Is Beautiful' Documentary: Artist Favianna Rodriguez Talks Immigrant Rights And Art's Role In Politics". The Huffington Post. Retrieved 25 March 2013. 
  8. ^ "About Us". EastSide Arts Alliance. Retrieved 2013-12-22. 
  9. ^ "50 Visionaries Who Are Changing Your World". Utne Reader. Retrieved 2013-12-22. 
  10. ^ "Biography". Favianna.com. Retrieved 2013-12-22. 

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