Rebeca Lane/Somos Guerreras

Lane has participated in many notable festivals and seminars in Central and South America on human rights, feminism and culture of hip-hop.

Eunice Rebeca Vargas (Rebecca Lane) was born in Guatemala City in 1984 amid civil war. Early on, she began researching methods to recover the historical memory of those war years, subsequently becoming an activist for families whose loved ones had been kidnapped or killed by the military government. Through this organization work, she realized that women had less power in leadership and thus she birthed a feminist vision. The theater has always been part of her life; she is currently part of a theater and hip-hop group that created the Eskina (2014) to address violence against youth in marginalized areas of the city, with the use of graffiti, rap, breakdancing, DJing, and parkour. Since 2012, as part of the hip-hop group Last Dose, she began recording songs rap poetry as an exercise. In 2013, she released her EP “Canto” and she began a tour of Central America and Mexico. Lane has participated in many notable festivals and seminars in Central and South America on human rights, feminism and culture of hip-hop. In 2014, she won the Proyecto L contest, which recognizes music that reinforces the right of expression. In addition, she works as a sociologist with several publications and lectures on urban youth cultures and identities and, more recently, on education and its role in the social reproduction of inequality.

She is the founder of Somos Guerreras project that seeks to create opportunities for empowerment and visibility of women in hip-hop culture in Central America. With support from Astraea is, she performed We are Guerreras with Nakury, and Audry Native Funk in 8 cities, from Panamá to Ciudad Juárez to record a documentary about the work of female hip-hop in the region.

*** En Español***

Rebeca Eunice Vargas (Rebeca Lane) nació en la Ciudad de Guatemala en 1984, en medio de una guerra civil. Desde temprano comenzó a investigar métodos para recuperar la memoria histórica de esos años de guerra, subsecuentemente convirtiéndose en activista por las familias cuyos seres queridos habían sido secuestrados o asesinados por el gobierno militar. A través de este trabajo de organización ella se dio cuenta de que las mujeres tenían menos poder en el liderazgo y así nació su visión feminista. El teatro siempre ha sido parte de su vida; ella actualmente forma parte de un grupo de teatro y Hip Hop que creó La Eskina (2014) para abordar la violencia contra la juventud en regiones marginalizadas de la ciudad, con el uso del grafiti, el rap, el breakdance, pinchar discos (deejaying) y el parkour. Desde 2012, como parte del colectivo de Hip Hop, Última Dosis, comenzó a grabar canciones de rap como un ejercicio de poesía. En 2013, salió su EP “Canto” y ella comenzó una gira por Centroamérica y México. Lane ha participado en muchos festivales y seminarios notables en Centroamérica y Suramérica sobre derechos humanos, el feminismo y la cultura del Hip Hop. En 2014, ganó el concurso Proyecto L, el cual reconoce música que refuerza el derecho de expresión. Además, ella trabaja como socióloga con varias publicaciones y da conferencias sobre culturas urbanas e identidades juveniles y, más recientemente, sobre la educación y su rol en la reproducción social de la inequidad.

Es fundadora del proyecto Somos Guerreras que busca generar espacios de empoderamiento y visibilidad de las mujeres en la cultura Hip Hop en Centroamérica. En 2016 con apoyo de Astraea se realizó de Somos Guerreras junto a Nakury, Nativa y Audry Funk por 8 ciudades desde Panamá hasta Ciudad Juárez para grabar un documental sobre el trabajo de las mujeres Hip Hop en la región.

Beldan Sezen

Beldan Sezen is an artist who uses drawing, collage, and text. She has given workshops and master classes, participated in comic jams and exhibitions in Amsterdam, London, Berlin, Wiesbaden, New York, Beirut, Istanbul and Aleppo. Her previous graphic novels were Zakkum and #GeziPark. Her graphic memoir Snapshots of a Girl was listed in the 2016 ALA Over The Rainbow list. She has been awarded with the 2015 Astraea Global Arts Fund Award for her Turkey based project Butch It Up!. Her latest book To Separate The Body From The Machine is part of the New York Public Library and The Library of Congress special artbooks collections. Born in Germany to Turkish parents, she currently lives in Amsterdam.

Deborah S. Esquenazi

Deb has created the documentary film Southwest of Salem: The Story of the San Antonio Four. In 1997 and 1998 four young, Latina lesbians from San Antonio, Texas were wrongfully convicted and sentenced to prison. All were alleged to have gang-raped two girls. An investigator speculated they were involved in “Satanic-related sexual abuse,” and their sexuality was used against them during the trial. They have been released from prison. This project documents their story.

Deborah S. Esquenazi is a Texas-based documentary film and radio producer, instructor, and video artist committed to using media to reveal social inequities, rally support for important causes, and create probing, powerful documentary work.

Southwest of Salem has received international attention for its investigation into this controversial criminal case, and been mentioned in Forbes Magazine, New York Times, Texas Observer, among others. This film was supported by the Sundance Institute for Documentary Film Program, John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation Initiative, Alice Kleberg Reynolds Foundation, and Chicken & Egg Pictures.

Deb is also curating a retrospective exhibition on the multi-media of Bruce Jackson, the renowned folklorist, photographer and filmmaker who photographed the bygone era of slave plantation turned prison farm circa 1960’s. She is also collaborating with the renowned Fusebox Festival ThinkEAST project, supported by Artplace America, on an experimental series of teen-led short films that explore issues of Latino identity, criminality, and cultural equity.

Dr. Annalise Ophelian

Annalise Ophelian is an award-winning filmmaker and the producer/director of the documentary about Miss Major Griffin-Gracy MAJOR!. She is a white, queer-identified cis woman, psychologist, and consultant whose work includes Diagnosing Difference (2009). StormMiguel Florez is the co-producer/editor of MAJOR! and is a Xicano transgender musician and filmmaker. He is a graduate of the Queer Women of Color Media Arts Project and on the leadership team of the Transgender GenderVariant Intersex Justice Project.

Kawira Mwirichia

Kawira Mwirichia studied Art and Design all through high school. A passionately curious individual, she also studied various interests such as Web and Graphic Design before focusing on her fundamental passion to “build beautiful things” and pursued a BSc in Civil Engineering. While pursuing her BSc, Kawira stayed in touch with the art scene by organizing two other female artists to set up a successful charity exhibition dubbed the “Girl Art Project” at the Godown Arts Center (2011). She also participated in various art events such as Words and Pictures (WaPI), a See Us Hear Us art festival, and at Changing Spaces, Changing Faces conference where she showcased several art pieces. A masculine-of-center woman born and raised in Kenya, Kawira deeply believes in the power of art for social change.

Krudas Cubensi

Krudas’ repertoire includes Hip Hop Cubensi, Dancehall, old-school rhythms and new rhythms of the entire world.

Odaymara Cuesta and Olivia Prendes were born and raised in Cuba, artivistas, rappers and hip-hop artists, independent musicians, poets, theaters and designers representing women, immigrants and non-white queer people of color as a central part of global change. Formed in Havana in 1999 as a trio, Krudas has become a duo since 2004 and has brought their raw point of view to the world. In 2006 they migrated to Austin, Texas in the United States and have been acclaimed internationally for their representations, recordings, speeches and tours in Europe, North America, Central America, South America and the Caribbean to this day. Krudas’ repertoire includes Hip Hop Cubensi, Dancehall, old-school rhythms and new rhythms of the entire world intertwined with their extraordinary and rebellious hard feminist and Afro-Cuban lyrics and their indomitable voices, sounds, dances and energies to empower communities. They are internationally recognized and have been presented throughout Latin America and the United States. In Cuba, raw (kruda) means uncooked, unprocessed, unrefined, natural, real. Cubensi is a word related to native species of Caribbean areas. Krudas Cubensi: Krudas of the Caribbean.

*** En Español***

Odaymara Cuesta y Olivia Prendes son nacidas y criadas en Cuba, artivistas, raperas y hiphoperas, músicos independientes, poetas, teatreras y diseñadoras en representación de mujeres, inmigrantes y personas queer no blancas (o de color, como se dice comúnmente en Estados Unidos) como parte central del cambio mundial. Formadas en la Habana en 1999 como un trío, Krudas se ha convertido en un dúo desde 2004 y le ha traído su punto de vista crudo al mundo. En 2006 migraron a Austin, Texas en Estados Unidos y han sido aclamadas internacionalmente por sus representaciones, grabaciones, discursos y giras en Norteamérica, Centroamérica, Suramérica y el Caribe hasta el día de hoy. El repertorio de las Krudas incluye Hip Hop Cubensi, Dancehall, ritmos viejos y nuevos del mundo entero entrelazados con sus extraordinarias y rebeldes líricas duras feministas y afrocubanas y sus indomables voces, sonidos, bailes y energías para empoderar comunidades. Son reconocidas internacionalmente y se han presentado por toda Latinoamérica y Estados Unidos. En Cuba, cruda (kruda) significa no cocida, no procesada, no refinada, natural, real. Cubensi es una palabra relacionada con especies nativas de áreas caribeñas. Krudas Cubensi: las crudas del Caribe.

Kyla Searle

Kyla Searle is an artist, producer and activist. Kyla seeks out inquiry and intersection, inspired by the creativity of the community that raised her in Berkeley and Oakland, California. Her work and practice have been developed through the Institute for Theatre in the Jazz Aesthetic, the Hemispheric EmergeNYC Program, the Institute for Arts and Civic Dialogue, and the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts. She lives in New York City.

Milumbe Haimbe

Milumbe Haimbe was born in Lusaka, Zambia. She has a Bachelor’s Degree in Architecture attained from the Copperbelt University, and also holds a Master’s Degree in Fine Arts obtained from the Oslo National Academy of the Arts in Norway.

Drawing on a background of painting, Milumbe’s current art practices are based in digital illustration, including sequential art as an intermedial process that combines and integrates illustrations and written texts into narratives. She asserts that this process has led to a natural progression into explorations of genres such as comics, animation and graphic novels. Her interests are related to intercultural issues, focusing on the forms of representation of cultural minorities within the context of popular media.

Milumbe has exhibited her work in numerous shows both locally and internationally, including FOCUS 10 – Art Basal in Switzerland, and is an alumnus of the Art Omi International Artist’s Residency in New York. She also exhibited in the Biennale for Contemporary African Art in Dakar, 2014, and is a recipient of the 2015 Bellagio Arts Fellowship Award, as well as the Smithsonian Artist Research Fellowship Award.

A. Naomi Jackson and Lisa Harewood

Naomi Jackson is the author of The Star Side of Bird Hill, published by Penguin Press in June 2015. She studied fiction at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. Jackson traveled to South Africa on a Fulbright scholarship, where she received an M.A. in Creative Writing from the University of Cape Town. A graduate of Williams College, her work has appeared in literary journals and magazines in the United States and abroad. She is the recipient of residencies from the University of Pennsylvania’s Kelly Writers House, Hedgebrook, Vermont Studio Center, and the Camargo Foundation. (Photo credit: Lola Flash)

Lisa Harewood is a Barbadian filmmaker and writer/director of Auntie, a short developed by the Commonwealth Foundation in 2013 and acquired by National Black Programming Consortium for its AfroPop series. The film has inspired an oral history project, Barrel Stories, which will document and share the experiences of Caribbean parents and children separated by migration. She previously produced a feature film which was nominated for Best First Feature at Pan African Film Festival in Los Angeles. She holds an M.A. from Warwick University and trained in Independent Producing at MetFilm School, both in the UK. 

Nia Witherspoon

Nia Witherspoon is a multidisciplinary artist-scholar producing work at the intersections of indigeneity, queerness, and African diaspora epistemologies.  Working primarily in the mediums of vocal and sound composition, playwriting, and creative scholarship, Dr. Witherspoon’s work has been recognized and supported by the Mellon Foundation, Theatre Bay Area, and the National Queer Arts Festival. Her original play, The Messiah Complex, is a multi-temporal meditation on the loss of parents in black and queer diasporas. Messiah was performed at New York’s prestigious Downtown Urban Theatre Festival (HERE Art Center) where it received the Audience Award and placed second for Best Play. Witherspoon’s work as a vocalist, both independently and with acclaimed ceremonial-music duo SoliRose, has spanned stages, ceremonial spaces, and activist organizations from the San Francisco Bay Area to Chicago, Los Angeles, Toronto, and Beirut, and her creative nonfiction is most recently featured in Yellow Medicine Review: A Journal of Indigenous Literature, Art, and Thought. Witherspoon has forthcoming publications in the Journal of Popular Culture and Women and Performance, and she is currently at work on a book project, “The Nation in the Dark: Reparations of Ceremony in Diaspora,” which asserts that nationalism, far from being dead, is essential to radical women of color re-envisioning indigenous religions. She received a B.A. from Smith College and a PhD from Stanford University.