By: Natalia Angeles
East Los Angeles College Dream Resource Center spotlights art and the influence it can have on movements against inequality.
Nicolas Gonzales Medina also known as Nico the Artivist, who uses the pronouns he/they, has partnered with ELAC Dream Resource Center to bring awareness to the ongoing fight of the undocumented community.
“Printmaking as Protest” includes Medina’s story of being an activist and later adapting his love for art making to advocate for undocumented people like him.
“I never really considered myself as an artist, my parents never understood the arts and how it can support me financially,” says Medina.
At the age of 15, Medina assisted his teacher on a mural. This mural sparked an interest in his background and the people that were undocumented. Medina says, “It was the only mural I got paid for due to my status.” This worried Medina as he wondered how his love for art can help him succeed financially..
Closer to the end of his high school years, Medina started to become less and less involved in his arts. “I dropped out of high school, came out as queer, and started to live on my own at the age of 16-17,” Medina says.
Medina’s only escape from his personal life was to stay involved in his community. It felt right in their heart to keep staying active with his undocumented people. “Being involved got me a job at the University of Illinois and I was able to help a student win the deportation battle,” Medina says.
Medina’s source of knowledge about the oppression undocumented people face came from first-hand experince. Medina’s mother who suffered from lung cancer and died in 2008 opened another set of injustice undcoumened people face in the medical field. “Public hospitals treatment of undocumented people also made me realize how much I needed to fight for my community,” Medina says.
The “2010 Immigrant Youth Justice League: Coming Out” was one of Medina’s first activism acts. “We were told to never share our status because we might get deported, but this was our time to come out,” Medina says. Many alongside Medina showed their passion for this issue and projected their voices without any fear.
This was not the first or last act of civil disobedience Medina took part in. On March 10, 2012 Medina joined the Walking for the American Dream from San Francisco to Washington DC. This walk was another form of showing that undocumented people were no longer going to hide in the shadows. In the process Medina and other participants found out more information about Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals and what could be done with politicians in these areas.
Throughout various acts of civil disobedience, Medina recognized how his love for art can equally send out a message towards the undocumented fight. “Sin papeles y sin Medio motivated me to do more with my artwork,” says Medina.
The more Medina created, the more people around the community supported the fight against oppression. ‘We need more queer, women, undocumented, and people of color artists making art about the issues their own community faces,” says Medina.
With more people understanding the struggle of undocumented folks, the finish line to granting many of them their rights is close. To view Medina’s artwork visit his page; Shop All | NGM Arts (square.site)