Ella Mendoza makes resistance art, born from immense power and healing. A self-taught illustrator, Mendoza brings their work to life with bold strokes and bright color. “The themes of my work are liberation and representation,” they say. “I want to make the art that I wish I had growing up.” A first-time DIY Fest artisan, Mendoza is one of five vendors selected for Craft Lake City’s inaugural Community Inclusion Program, which endeavors to support creators from traditionally marginalized communities. In addition to selling their paintings, stickers, buttons and more, Mendoza will premiere their newest zine, POC in SLC, which compiles local business owners and crafters of color.
Mendoza has been drawing all their life but began exploring the digital art realm two years ago. “[My people] create fast and loud and somehow manage to make colors express not just our happiness,” they say, “but our sadness and our anger.” Mendoza first sold their art in 2015 at a fundraiser to reunite Mendoza with their mother. “To create art is to create media, culture, a physical testament to your dreams,” says Mendoza, “and as an undocumented, brown, queer femme, I forgot to dream for some time.” Reuniting with their mother reminded Mendoza of their roots: “[My mother] reminded me that yellow was a color, that sunshine was real. … I started drawing people flying—flying over borders, over chains, and breaking free.” In Mendoza’s favorite piece, Kullisara, they depict with curved strokes a person with blue braids, levitating, as vibrant purple corn is born from their body. “[Kullisara is] based on my grandmother,” says Mendoza, “and on all indigenous women who feed their families, who summon food from nothing, who continue to create and give birth.”
In addition to their art, Mendoza is focusing their efforts on Roots of Autonomous Resistance, a PoC collective for direct action, art builds and more. “It is a labor of magic to be alive as a Queer and Trans Person of Color in this state,” says Mendoza. “I don’t know where I would be without my community. … We’re problem solvers, we’re innovators, we’re healers, we’re makers.” –Kathy Rong Zhou