The Bay Area has a storied legacy of activism, from the Black Panthers to anti-gentrification movements. But as San Jose State University art student Estefania Bautista investigates in her portrait series Viva La Mujer, history often forgets the work and power of the women within those same communities.
Bautista recently spoke with KQED about the visibility her work brings to female leaders from the '60s and '70s freedom movements and the importance of education in activism.
How did your series Viva La Mujer begin?
I took my inspiration from my Mexican American history class with Professor Covarrubias, who made sure to talk about the female perspective in history. I just thought it was so cool to learn about these women who were very active in their community, but who we don’t usually learn about. While I was taking a break from studying, I decided to draw one of them -- I started off drawing a portrait of the Brown Beret women, then I added a representation from the Black Panthers and a portrait of Native American activist Sacheen Littlefeather. As I learned and learned about these other women, my research began to take me outside the classroom.
How did you decide which subjects to create portraits of?