You came of age in the exhilarating atmosphere of Detroit in the 1970s, a center for revolutionary black workers and the hub of a musical explosion. How did that shape your politics?
I’m originally from Texas, with Tejano/Jewish ancestry. Work at Chrysler settled my migrant family in Detroit in the 1950s. Yes, I took part in civil rights/Black Panther/antiwar actions, and I grew up listening to The Last Poets, Amiri Baraka, Stevie Wonder, Aretha Franklin, and Marvin Gaye: dancing in the streets and feeling the world on the cusp of a revolution!
From Detroit to México! How did that story unfold?
As a teenager, I made posters in solidarity with the United Farm Workers grape strike and boycott and found myself swept up by the Chicanx Movement. In 1972 I met Cesar Chavez at a rally, and he recruited me to work with the UFW in Salinas. I spent several years working in the strawberry and lettuce fields, where I learned from and bonded with my Mexican coworkers.
During that same period, my sister went to college at UNAM, and I began to visit México. I fell in love: the sinking marble museums, the smell of the panaderías, the Zócalo echoing with the voices of millennia and the smell of diesel in the streets of La CDMX. Later, my husband, Tirso Araiza, told me when we met that he intended to live in Mérida, the city of his birth. And we did it! I’m becoming a Mexican citizen. I want to participate in the vibrant cultural life of Mérida, the Yucatán and the country, and contribute artistically to this amazing place.
Have murals become your preferred art form?
My work evolved from the streets of San Francisco’s Mission District, whose mural renaissance has been legendary. I work in many forms, but I consider the mural my favorite. I love the theatricality, the social interaction in a public place, the monumentality, the interface with the environment. I feel thrilled while I’m painting a mural.