Favianna Rodriguez

American artist

Favianna Rodriguez (born September 26, 1978) is an American artist and activist.

Favianna Rodriguez attends the National Women's Studies Association's 2016 conference.


  • I think that people often think that culture is neutral, but culture is a major battleground. People have to understand that the culture they're seeing is reflective of a power structure that is impeding our progress as a society…
  • The anti-immigrant movement has successfully been able to dominate the immigration debate by pushing out messages about migrants that are inhumane, racist, xenophobic and hateful. But those of us who fight for migrant rights are not only fighting back, we want to reframe the way migrants are viewed, artists especially. We want to expose the tragic losses that have resulted from unjust immigration laws, and we want to inspire and challenge people to reimagine migration as something beautiful and natural — somethign [sic] we all do.
  • Art is uniquely able to speak to our understanding of the world by delivering potent, powerful and empathetic content. People engage with art in a very different way than they engage with a policy paper or a news article or even a protest. This is why I believe in the power of art to shape thoughts, change hearts, and ultimately help shape laws and policy. Art has the potential to distill the most complex social challenges down to their most basic and simplest values. Values like love, family, caring for the other, caring for those in need, and fighting the things that cause human suffering.

"Harnessing Cultural Power" in All We Can Save (2021)

  • Culture is power. The music we listen to, the social media we consume, the food we eat, the movies and television shows we watch-these all inform our values, behaviors, and worldviews. Culture is in a constant battle for our imagination. It is our most powerful tool to inspire the social change these times demand.
  • As the old narrative of capitalism reveals its devastating failures, we urgently need more compelling and relatable stories that show us what a just, sustainable, and healthy world can look like.
  • Our current relationship to the Earth is based on a worldview of domination that supports an extractive economy.
  • When it comes to climate change, most of the stories and cultural content that exist to inform and organize people are overwhelmingly pain oriented, outdated, and hella White.
  • Where is the pop culture that makes riding public transportation and eating a plant-based diet fun, cool, and accessible to diverse audiences? Imagine the power of being exposed to an abundance of stories, songs, and images that challenge our fundamental consumption culture and expand our perspectives by helping us feel the consequences of our choices. What if we made it uncool to use fossil fuels in the same way smoking became uncool?

Interview with Be Latina (2020)

  • We actually need to make it cool to be a part of Earth Day.
  • We have to be able to connect the dots, that ultimately our problem is the exploitation of the planet, of life on the planet, whether it’s the four-legged or the two-legged
  • when we’re thinking about what’s next, we’re saying don’t bail out the fossil fuel industry, don’t bail out the airlines. Bail out people.
  • When we’re dealing with a crisis like COVID, which is disproportionately affecting people of color — and it’s a respiratory disease! — and then you consider that Black and Latino people overwhelmingly live in polluted communities, the disparities just become really clear.
  • I advocate for a lot of issues around food security because I grew up in a community that had only fast food. And when I recognized that not only were we getting sick from what we ate, but that we are part of the gears of the machine, whether it’s on the farm picking food or killing animals — because remember that it is the beef industry that is destroying the lungs of the planet — who works in this industry? It’s overwhelmingly Latinx people, overwhelming immigrants.
  • together as a global community, we are recognizing the failures of the system. It is so clear. People are upset. People are seeing, like, ‘Wow, our governments are not set up to take care of us, even though we have all this wealth and even though people work so hard. We don’t have the infrastructure, whether it’s the health infrastructure or economic infrastructure, to truly be resilient.
  • We need to actually tell the stories in a way that helps people understand both what the problem is as well as the solution. Because I don’t think it’s just about being reactive. It’s about putting forward a solution — and I can assure you that the right wing is definitely already doing this. They are already helping people imagine.

Interview with Atmos (2021)

  • I started calling myself an artist when I was 18 years old and attending UC Berkeley. I had been an activist for a few years, and a lot of the ways I would contribute to social justice movements would be through my art. I would design the posters and flyers. I would bring art activity to the people. I met a woman through my Chicano studies class. Her name was Yreina Cervantez, and she was and continues to be a very well-known Chicana artist. She saw my work and told me that I was very talented and connected me to Self Help Graphics in Los Angeles, which was one of the first institutions in which I really was able to produce my first body of work. So although I did not go to art school, I took on my own artistic learning, and I haven’t stopped ever since.
  • I’ve been tremendously inspired by artists like Judy Baca, who is a muralist in Los Angeles who has transformed what murals mean in our communities and has also built her own institution. Artists like Nina Simone and James Baldwin, who were able to create work that really spoke about the conditions facing Black people and work that would remain universal contributions to culture—something that would continue to shape generations. I’m inspired by people like Víctor Jara, who was a musician in Chile during the very oppressive government. He was actually killed by the government, but nevertheless, his music continues to inspire generations today. I was also inspired by Frida Kahlo. She was the only Latina artist I was exposed to in high school, so she was a role model because she was the only one I studied when I was younger.
  • I have always been committed to opening doors for other artists of color, and I’ve always been committed to justice. Largely, that’s because I grew up in Oakland during the era of the War on Drugs, and I experienced hip hop. I experienced the remnants of the Black Panthers, so I’ve always been shaped by the idea that culture is not only something very healing, but it is truly what gets us through the hardest time. Art and culture give us the language to talk about what we are experiencing as oppressed people.
  • As a movement who cares about climate justice and justice overall, we need to better leverage the power of culture because culture is what transforms the imagination—culture shows us what’s possible. And we can do that by including artists and culture makers in our organizing work. We can train and educate artists on what are the key issues we’re facing in climate. We can pass the mic to artists of color when it comes to climate change. So many people think of white men as the primary spokespeople around climate, but that needs to shift. We need to ensure that it’s BIPOC artists who are speaking about the true impact of the climate crisis. We need people of color and especially culture makers of color to be sharing the stories of what’s happening in our community.
  • We need to be able to have writers in television rooms write about the Black children who are getting asthma, the Latinx farmworkers who are working in extreme heat. All of these stories exist. They’re happening, but we need to find the bridge so that these stories can be transformed into cultural content that will move audiences.
  • The power of art and culture is that it speaks to our heart. It speaks to our emotions, but it also opens up our imagination to show us what’s possible. It takes us to another world, and we can experience that world. What we urgently need in our climate movement is to be able to imagine solutions and see ourselves in a different kind of relationship to nature. In order for us to halt the climate crisis, we have to reimagine our relationship to energy. We have to think about our consumption, especially as Americans. We could tell very different kinds of stories around how we achieve happiness and success. How we do that is by reconnecting to each other and to the natural world.
  • I really long for a time when I can look at art and listen to music and watch films that remind me of my relationship to nature, that help connect me to all of the beautiful animals that we share this planet with, the ocean, the forest. That relationship has been broken. It has been altered and severed. That is the effects of white supremacy and colonialism. This is why in so many movements, there is a demand to return land to Indigenous communities and to center Indigenous voices because Indigenous people continue to be the ones who are most protecting our world’s biodiversity. And if you look at culture from an Indigenous perspective, they are very different kinds of stories. They are stories about being stewards of the Earth, stories about protecting the salmon.
  • The power of art is that it can help us heal our relationship to nature and help us as human beings understand that we can move away from an extractive relationship toward a regenerative one. Culture can do that, but we have to do it by replacing the old fairy tales. Greta Thunberg called them “fairy tales of endless extraction” because, in reality, they are fairy tales. They are stories. They are a form of culture that has gotten us here—and largely a culture of colonialism that deemed some life could be exploited for the benefit of other life.
  • The narrative we need is to respect all life, including all human beings. How do we build our reconnection to each other as human beings? Because that’s what’s going to transition us away from an extractive economy and solve the climate crisis.

Quotes about Favianna Rodriguez

  • Favianna Rodriguez is one of the first people I met who brought up sex in a public context with no attempt at mass seduction. She was incredibly matter-of-fact about her truth that, as an artist, as an organizer, her pleasure and her freedom are part of her larger radical creative path.
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