by Breanna Fierro, VPAM Student Tutor
The Alhambra based artist, Yolanda González, looks to give back to her community through watercolor and ceramic workshops out of her studio Ma Art Space, and Inner City Arts, an arts organization for underserved youth. González frequently participates as a guest speaker and panelist for a variety of organizations and events and is committed to building up the presence of her art space to promote the artwork of other local artists.
González’s artistic practice and community engagement place a strong focus on the liberation of women, especially that of Chicana women. Chicana women have historically faced criticism for seeking to better their conditions at the expense of traditional social roles. For this reason, González’s portraits of Chicana women can be understood as a celebration of the triumphs of the Chicana/o community.
As part of her process, González seeks to evoke intense emotions that she later transfers onto the canvas, often resulting in narrative-based works that connect her experience to that of her subjects. Using a brush as her tool of choice, she tells the bold tales of the people who have made her life extraordinary. In her 30+ years of painting, she has developed a dialog as part of her creative process between herself, the canvas, and the sitter. The key to González’s relationship with her art is PEOPLE: who we are and the emotions we evoke from soul and heart.
As a Latina woman, the message I received from being around and learning from González is that art is not just about the artist, but it’s for you, the viewer, and everyone around you. Art belongs to the world and is meant to be shared. Many artists like González have to deal with a lot of pressure at a young age from both family and society at large. Without much support and having to deal with this pressure, visibility can be limited causing the community work of artists like González to be of a lot of importance to the Chicano community.
The courage, love, and dedication to her family and the Chicana/o/ community inspire me to keep pushing forward and not to give up on my art, to reflect on all of us as a family. Reflecting on the message of strong women like González gives me hope and her work helps us recognize that all Latina women are actively influencing our community.