Julia Mata joined our team as Storytelling Fellow in January 2020. Get to know more about her!
In what neighborhood do you live?
Allerton, The Bronx
How did you first become connected to The LP, or hear about The LP?
I was hearing about The Laundromat Project for a few years through word of mouth, as a place that would do really genre-fluid, interesting projects. About a year ago I got to know the Kelly Street Collaborative, and some of the people doing projects there, seeing the pellizas that Gina Goico was making with kids who would come to the space, talking with Cievel about her work at The LP. Cievel came to my job at the Longwood Art Gallery at Hostos Community College, and we played a game of patolli with artist Fran Ilich, learning about a Mexica economic practice. Also, through Longwood, I met Walter Cruz, a former LP Fellow, who had been making these jackets with painted affirmations on them that he would wear around the city. So, my introduction was mostly through Kelly Street, the community of artists working with The LP, getting to know their projects and stories.
What attracted you to The LP? How does working here relate to your professional goals?
I wanted to work at a directly POC-centered space, and I liked that The LP is very conceptual and rooted in group dreaming up ideas. Things feel open, that there’s room to bring your perspective. That makes so much sense to me, I feel like black and brown people, artists or not, we have all the creativity and innovation, we get so shorted, so much less of the support we deserve to grow. I feel like The LP is intentional about building a base and network of creatives of color, which to me, that network of support is the only way we can create a healthier and more sustainable creative environment for each other. I think that is possible, coming up with our own systems, and that my history as a curator and event producer would grow by being in community with The LP.
Do you have your own creative practice? If so, tell us more!
I do, definitely. I make comics and I do illustrations. I have a series called “CRISIS!” about two girls who are roommates, and are experiencing everyday life drama. I learned the phrase “slice of life” to describe a type of comics that are really down to earth, and talk about quotidian nonsense, and that phrase made me giggle and it felt applicable to the way I like to approach writing a story. I also work in collaboration with two friends, Rachelle Hall and Daisy Ruiz as Spicy Mango Comics, where we operate as an independent publisher, and make art together. I’ve been curating events and programming for many years, and that is also another thing I love to do, organizing parties, concerts, a lot of things.
Can you tell us about an artist or project that has inspired you?
I’ve recently gotten into Junji Ito and his work is so satisfying. He has been making horror comics for decades, and I am so inspired by the way he uses the comic form, I’m learning a lot about pacing, world building, how to create drama and tension by the way you set up your pages. I like that he creates a visceral response for me, the comics are gross! I love it, but yes, they are very gross. Besides the energy that it is giving me technically, I think his work also speaks to me about the idea of having similar but abundant inspiration over a lifetime of creativity. That there’s no concern about running out of ideas and worlds to create.
What is your favorite… film? …album? …food?
Right now, the ideal setting is: my room, a Sunday, Los Hooligans are playing “Despeinada” on the speaker. I’m eating a pomegranate from Community Green Market by Pelham Parkway and drinking a strong coffee.
Where do you do your laundry?
A little family owned laundromat that I like because everyone is very friendly even through the laundromat is too narrow for the amount of people who go there. It has plants in buckets by the window that make me happy.
In your opinion, why does art matter?
Art is natural to being a person, we want to say what it’s like to be ourselves in the world, how we see the world. Bringing new visuals into being creates a new reality. I believe strongly in how stories, music, images can introduce a level of perception that you may not have had before. I believe in art that lives alongside us, that we want to be around, that isn’t always polite or professional.
What LP value do you most relate to and why?
I like “Write our Own Histories.” To me, as an organization, this puts the power of self description in the hands of more than a few people. There’s power in the stories of people in NYC, and there’s real love and commitment that can happen in knowing the stories of our communities.
Julia Mata is an illustrator, comic book artist, and event producer who grew up in Southern California, with familial roots in Central America and the Eastern European Jewish Pale of Settlement. She is an independent curator, event producer, and is one third of the WOC run comics collaborative, Spicy Mango Comics. She has been working professionally as a curator since her teens, and has been a part of various collaborations to produce concerts, radio shows, gallery exhibitions, and parties. She also creates visuals and illustrations for women of color run projects and initiatives.