Latinx Artist Fellowship

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Yreina D. Cervántez

Painter, Printmaker, and Muralist

Los Angeles, CA

Instagram @yreinadcervantez

Whether in painting, printmaking or muralism, a complex layering of symbolism and text from many sources characterizes the compositions in my artwork; inscribed testimonies imbued with spiritual and political meanings. Inspired by MesoAmerican philosophy and art both past and present, ancient concepts and metaphors are combined with current issues and lived experience to create a hybrid language of contemporary glyphs that result in a rich visual narrative. In many of my images, autobiographical elements and personal/collective memory and history or “autohistoria” (as defined by writer Gloria Anzaldua), are integrated with the imagery to communicate a contemporary Xicana-Indigena feminist thought and perspective.

Yreina D. Cervántez is a third-generation Chicana born in Garden City, Kansas, raised in Southern California, and currently based in Los Angeles. She received a BA in Fine Arts from UC Santa Cruz and an MFA from UCLA , and is a professor emerita, having taught art related courses in the Department of Chicana/o Studies at California State University Northridge. 

She works primarily in painting, printmaking, and muralism. Her body of work reflects nearly fifty years of exploration, informed by Native Mesoamerican mythology, cosmology, and spirituality, Mexican art traditions, and Chicanx poetics. Prominent in her work are issues of environmental justice, immigration and human rights, and also themes of Sacred Space, specifically in regards to Xicana/Latina agency and the decolonized feminine body as contested space and site of transformation.

Cervántez has exhibited in art institutions such as the Smithsonian American Art Museum, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, UCLA at the Armand Hammer Museum and Cultural Center, the Skirball Center and Museum, the Los Angeles Municipal Art Gallery, La Plaza de Cultura y Artes, the Oakland Museum of Art, and the.Vincent Price Art Museum at East LA College; as well as at community arts venues such as Self-Help Graphics & Art  and the Galeria de La Raza.

She is in various collections including the Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, DC; the Los Angeles County Museum of Art; the National Museum of Mexican Art in Chicago; the Blanton Museum of Art at the University of Texas, Austin, among others. Cervantez’ art has been written about and appears in numerous books and scholarly publications. In 2022 she was a recipient of the Anonymous Was A Woman Award and also selected as a 2024 honoree for Art of Resistance Award, Center for the Study of Political Graphics, Los Angeles.

Selected Works

Yreina D. Cervántez, Big Baby Balam, watercolor on Arches paper, 1999-2017.
A central figure radiates light with outstretched arms and a large exposed heart. At the figure's right side a devilish cat snarls with sharp fangs and claws. At the figure's left are two drama masks, one yellow and one white, which are set between three burning candles. At the figure's feet are three portraits of an old woman holding a gun. Surrounding the outside of the poster are small gold figures. Text in Spanish at the top of the poster.
Portraits of three environmental activists: on the left side, Berta Cáceres wears a turquoise garment and holds a large seashell. At the center of the composition, Homero Gómez González stands with his arms outstretched in front of a pair of orange and black monarch butterfly wings. To the right, Eugui Roy Martínez Pérez holds a snake, and a dragon-like figure hovers near him. Near his feet are frogs and three feathers. At the top of the composition, glyphs featuring quotes from Berta Cáceres and Francisco X. Alarcón emerge from the beaks of two hummingbirds. A glyph containing a quote by Rigoberta Menchu emerges from the monarch wings at the center.