Printing For The Movement: A Love Story

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How do you make a poster that inspires, organizes and illustrates a social movement? For printmakers Melanie Cervantes and Jesus Barraza, the duo behind the Oakland-based graphic arts collaboration Dignidad Rebelde, the secret ingredient might be their own love story.

For 10 years, Cervantes and Barraza have been mixing colorful ink with political messages addressing workers’ rights, ICE deportations, environmental threats to indigenous people's land and more. At first, Cervantes says, their artistic styles were like apples and oranges, but as their collaboration strengthened and they taught each other different skills, their work blended into a shared, immediate aesthetic. Now they teach those skills to others, creating platforms for artists and activists to share their own messages in screen printed multiples.

Recently, Cervantes was diagnosed with a rare form of lung cancer. As she begins treatment, Cervantes' and Barraza's bonds -- both with each other and with the communities Dignidad Rebelde serves -- have only deepened, with an outpouring of support for her recovery.

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