Best Activist-Artist

Favianna Rodriguez

At just 32, Favianna Rodriguez has a résumé that reads like it should belong to someone twice her age: Her work has been exhibited in museums all across the country, including, locally, the de Young and Oakland museums; she’s founded and co-founded several organizations that work to combine art and activism, including the Taller Tupac Amaru printing studio and the EastSide Arts Alliance; and last year, she co-edited a book of political illustrations — all uncopyrighted and intended to be reproduced by anyone who wants them. This success isn’t for nothing: The Oakland-born, Oakland-based printmaker is both a tireless activist and a brilliant artist, ever-cognizant of the power her work holds as an organizing tool and always striving to, as her official artist’s statement says, “translate the messages of the frontlines into works of art that can be used to educate and mobilize.” Artistically, her work is graphic, visceral, and unmistakably alive, with arresting, saturated colors and bold type; intellectually, it covers a broad swath of social justice issues, including the Iraq War, corporate irresponsibility, and human rights. Ultimately, it’s proof that political art can — and, indeed, should — still be pretty.

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