I believe art can send a powerful message with a touch of ink. Behind every piece of my artwork is a personal, cultural and sometimes historical narrative.
Growing up in my community, I did not learn about my own sources of cultural capital. It intrigued me to explore my own cultural background and identity. I was privileged enough to learn more about my cultural history from educators in my community, high school, and college. All the knowledge that I learned from academic scholars, authors, musicians, and artists have inspired most of my work.
I like to look back at artists who have inspired me to be the artist that I am today. My inspiration has come from many Black artists and artists of color such as Elizabeth Catlett, José Guadalupe Posada and Artemio Rodriguez. Most of my work has also been influenced by storytelling, activism and music. Every time I create a new print, I always think back to what Nina Simone once said, “An artist’s duty, as far as I’m concerned, is to reflect the times…I choose to reflect the times and situations in which I find myself.” I believe it is my duty to not only visually reflect my stories but to also examine and reflect the current situations that affect predominantly Blacks, Indigenous and people of color.
As a MeXicana artist, I like to critically think about the content and mediums that I use in my artwork. As I became knowledgeable about printmaking, I learned of the importance of this medium during Posada’s time among other Black and Brown printmakers. I believe printmaking is revolutionary and an act of resistance because a print not only becomes accessible to the people, but it also demonstrates the human labor.
Yaneli Delgado was born and raised in South Central Los Angeles. After earning her bachelor’s degrees in Sociology and Spanish at UC Santa Barbara, Delgado strengthened her commitment to South Central, where she returned to pursue various positions in the field of education. As an artist, Delgado explores notions of history, personal and collective memory, and resistance, depicting contemporary concerns using the centuries-old medium of printmaking. First introduced to the artform by the artist and community organizer Ernesto Vazquez in 2016, she continued to learn about printmaking on her own before enrolling in classes to delve deeper into the techniques of silkscreen and relief printing. Drawing from music, activism, critical pedagogy and her Mexican American/Chicana roots, Delgado’s poignant and intricate linocuts center the lived experiences of BIPOC, often portraying women in particular. Delgado’s work has been exhibited in group exhibitions in various venues across the Southland, including Avenue 50 Studio (2020), The Muckenthaler Cultural Center (2020), Artfully Spaced Gallery (2019), and El Centro Cultural Cinematográfico México del Consulado de México (2019). She presented her first solo exhibition this past February at the Jean Deleage Gallery at Casa 0101. She will receive her teaching credential in art education from Cal State Long Beach in Spring 2021.
What does "For the Love of L.A." mean to you?
I find it hard to explain what "For the Love of L.A." means to me. I love all the cultures that I see and experience in Los Angeles. I love taking the metro and cruising around this big city. That’s something I appreciate so much about Los Angeles. I pay $1.75 for the metro and it takes me from South Central to Pasadena or to Koreatown. I also enjoy the uniqueness of each community. I think I reflect that on my print. I enjoy the architecture, food, street signs, low riders and the powerlines. Sometimes it is not only what I see, but what I hear. I enjoy listening to the eloteros shout "elotes", the ice cream trucks on a hot day, the musicians performing in the metros or at the swapmeets on a Sunday afternoon, and the birds chirping every morning as they enjoy the sunrise while they hold themselves on the powerlines. I honestly appreciate and love everything about it. I think that is what makes Los Angeles so special to me.
How do you think the work you've created reflects the time we're in?
In my work I wanted to reflect various messages. I wanted to stay away from what we all know—Beverly Hills, Hollywood, and Melrose. I wanted to highlight communities that are constantly dismissed when we think about Los Angeles. I wanted to make that connection with the current times to state that these are communities that are the most affected in society. These communities deal with systemic oppression, and while we are doing our best to work collectively to overcome this pandemic, these are some of the many low-income communities that seem to go unnoticed. For these reasons, I wanted to highlight not only these communities but also for people to take note that these communities exist in Los Angeles. Next time someone says Los Angeles, I want them to think of Historic Filipinotown, Pico Union, Watts and many other Black, Asian and Latino communities.
What do you think the future looks like? And how do you see the arts contributing to it?
Gentrification is something that continues to affect many of the communities that I depict on my artwork. However, I know there are many community members who continue to do work to uplift others and doing their best to stop developers coming into these communities. I’d like to think that the future will look better than what we are living right now. Nevertheless, I truly hope that as big of a community as we are, we continue to help one another in any way we can. I am a firm believer that art helps and continues to contribute in many ways. We see it literally everywhere we go. I would love to see more art programs in low income communities because a lot of kids do not have access to it. Often times, the arts do not receive the recognition that it should. Many do not know that the arts contribute a lot to beautifying communities, fashion, different companies and the economy. The arts also contribute to our well-being. I hope in the future that the arts become more accessible to people from all ages and that we take time to appreciate it more.
What places in Los Angeles most inspire you?
There are several places in Los Angeles that inspire me. I was born and raised in South Central Los Angeles. While growing up in the neighborhood, I learned the history of what was South Central. I became intrigued to learn more about my community. This led me to learn even more about the laws and politics that came with learning the history about my neighborhood. This also inspired me to learn about other communities around South Central, which to this day continue to inspire me to create work that ties with its history one way or another.
As I grew older, I started exploring the city even more which allowed me to understand the different cultures that make up Los Angeles. I would like to say that all the communities that make up Los Angeles inspire me and make me proud to be from Los Angeles.
Do you have any future projects that you'd like to share with us?
At the moment, I am working on three projects. One will be for an upcoming exhibition at Self Help Graphics. The other two are drawings I’ve been wanting to turn into linocut prints. I also hope to have my online shop ready by the end of July for people to have more access to purchasing my work.