1953, Newark, New Jersey
Juana Alicia (born 1953) is an illustrator, sculptor, printmaker, painter, muralist, and educator, and works individually as well as with artist collectives. These include MAESTRAPEACE Art Works, Trust Your Struggle, the PLACA Muralists and Divine Intervention. In her teens and early twenties, she was swept up by the Chicanx movement and, in particular, the United Farm Workers struggle. She was recruited by Cesar Chavez to work with the union in Salinas from 1971 to 1976. Her murals and paintings reflect those formative years with visual narratives that center social and environmental justice. Juana Alicia’s earliest mural in San Francisco, Las Lechugueras or The Women Lettuce Workers (1983), depicted the struggles of migrant women farmworkers in industrialized agriculture.
By the first decade of this century Alicia had produced more than thirty murals, including the monolithic acrylic work entitled La Llorona’s Sacred Waters (2004), reinterpreting the traditional myth of the weeping woman who lost her children in the river. The Aztec water deity Chalchiuhtlicue is among several iconic female figures shown defending water rights in five different locations. The mural celebrates the women, both real and mythical, who protect this vital resource from exploitation by corporations and governments. Along with six other women artists, she painted MAESTRAPEACE, the monumental mural that graces the exterior of the San Francisco’s Women’s Building. With its first stage completed in 1994, it is the subject of the book MAESTRAPEACE: San Francisco’s Monumental Feminist Mural (Heyday Books, 2019).
Juana Alicia is recognized nationally and internationally for her revolutionary content and style. Akin to genres of the contemporary Latin American literary movements she is inspired by, her work can be characterized as magical social realism. She works and lives in the San Francisco Bay Area, California, and in Mérida, Yucatán, Mexico. Before retiring from the academy five years ago, she taught at several colleges and universities, including the University of California and Stanford University. She has exhibited widely, with local exhibitions at the Galería de la Raza, Mission Cultural Center, San Francisco Arts Commission Gallery, Marin Museum of Contemporary Art, and Turner Print Museum. She has been the recipient of a Fulbright Fellowship, the Precita Eyes Master Muralist Award, the California Arts Council Legacy Fellowship and a Eureka Fellowship, among other recognitions.
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