Rachelle Escamilla

Resisting Erasure: Reading & Discussion with Rachelle Escamilla

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Thursday, June 24, 2021,
7pm - 8:15pm

Online & In-Person


Join poet Rachelle Escamilla for a reading from her first book: Imaginary Animal, a collection of poems created from story, memory, and institutional language around agricultural labor in the Central Coast of California.

Rachelle spent three days at the Library of Congress, Hispanic Division in the Summer of 2018, searching through thousands of books where migrant families are photographed, left unnamed, and unrecognized, where she found her family’s book. In order to uncover these images, she had to use the following search terms: wetback, illegal, Mexican worker. For this performance and conversation, she will be joined by Janice Lobo Sapigao the 2020-2021 Santa Clara Poet Laureate and poet & revolutionary, Asha.

This event will also feature a performance by Isabel Cruz of an interview between Sandra Weiner and Rachelle’s tia from 1970 when she was twelve years old about Sandra’s book Small Hands, Big Hands: Seven Profiles of Chicano Migrant Workers and Their Families.

In Weiner’s introduction to the book, she says “I had never known a migrant worker before starting the book,” and yet she proceeded to tell our stories anyway. The story of Rachelle’s family in Small Hands, Big Hands begins as follows: “after your grandfather went to Washington D.C. to testify in front of Congress about your baby tio and tias deaths, a white woman found us and asked to take photos, I remember her asking us to run down Park Hill in Hollister over and over so she could take pictures. They made a book, we received a copy, but your Tio threw it away because he didn’t want people to see how poor we were.”

This event is hosted in collaboration with the MAH exhibition, Conexiones, and the MexiCali Biennial, a non-profit contemporary visual arts organization that focuses on the area encompassing California and Mexico as a region of aesthetic production.

Meet the Artists



Rachelle Escamilla

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Janice Lobo Sapigao

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“Poetry, story and research are tools that people of color can use to actively resist the current and historical erasure of their experiences. Resisting erasure is an act of revolution in a system that marginalizes scholars of color, tokenizes artists of color, delegitimizes oral tradition, and buries historical information inside racist terminology. Through storytelling, poetry and research people of color, especially women of color, can begin to resist erasure and come together to create in spaces that are designed specifically for recovery.” - Rachelle Escamilla

Related Exhibition

May 14, 2021 – Sep 5, 2021


Experience selected artworks from the Museum of Latin American Art’s permanent art collection through the stories, songs, dances, and words of Latinx individuals and communities here in Santa Cruz County.