The National Association of Latino Arts and Cultures (NALAC) recently announced the artists and cultural workers selected for its 2023 Advocacy Leadership Institute (ALI). The cohort includes four Texas-based administrators.
Launched in 2009, ALI provides an opportunity for emerging professionals to learn about advocacy, representation, and policy change related to the arts. Due to the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, the program shifted to a virtual format. While this year the program will mostly take place online, the two-month training will culminate with a trip to Washington D.C., where participants will meet with legislators and national arts and nonprofit leaders.
In a press release, Mari Hernandez, NALAC’s Manager of Leadership Institutes & Convenings, stated, “After much anticipation, we are excited to return to D.C. for the 2023 Advocacy Leadership Institute. Like many other fields, the arts and culture nonprofit sector experienced unprecedented challenges over the last two years. Now more than ever it is critical for artists and arts administrators to advocate for equitable resources and policies that support the arts and culture field.”
Of the fifteen selected fellows, four represent Texas, including Amalia L. Ortiz of SAY Sí / SAY Sí Union in San Antonio; Asami Robledo-Allen Yamamoto of Latinos in Heritage Conservation in Allen; Liyen Chong of the Contemporary Arts Museum Houston; and Mauro Murillo, a San Antonio-based artist. Learn more about the Texas fellows below, via biographies provided by NALAC.
Amalia Ortiz (she/they) was awarded the 2020 American Book Award for Oral Literature. She appeared on three seasons of Russell Simmons Presents Def Poetry on HBO. Her book of poetry, Rant. Chant. Chisme was awarded the 2015 Writers’ League of Texas Poetry Discovery Prize and named one of the “10 Great Latino Books of 2015” by NBC Latino. In 2015 she was also chosen to speak at TEDx McAllen. Ortiz was awarded the Alfredo Cisneros Del Moral Foundation Grant, a writing residency at the National Hispanic Cultural Center, and the 2018 NALAC Fund for the Arts Grant to film videos for her latest book, The Canción Cannibal Cabaret & Other Songs. She won a 2021 City of San Antonio Individual Artist Grant to create poetry inspired by women in punk. She is a CantoMundo Fellow and a Hedgebrook writer-in-residence alumna. Ortiz received her MFA in Creative Writing from The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley. She is the Director of Theatre at SAY Si.
Asami Robledo-Allen Yamamoto (she/her) is a disabled, Mexican female artist, advocate, and educator. She is the Project Manager for Latinos in Heritage Conservation (LHC), where she advocates for equity and inclusion in historic preservation, through projects like the Abuelas Project, a multi-year GIS project that records important Latinx sites, stories, and places. She has a strong background in art museum education, where she focused on bilingualism and language advocacy and school, studio, teen, and access programs. She serves on the board of the Museum Education Roundtable, where her responsibilities include supporting the editorial team of the Journal of Museum Education. She earned her BFA in Art Education (2016) and her MA in Art Museum Education (2019) at the University of North Texas. In the fall of 2023, she will begin her doctoral studies. Currently, she is working on co-publishing a book about language inclusion in art museums.
Liyen Chong (she/they) is an artist, arts administrator, and community organizer. She is the Foundation Relations and Arts Advocacy Manager at Contemporary Arts Museum Houston. In 2020, she founded Arts Accountability Houston, a grassroots collective to increase public funding for the arts in Houston, Texas. Her artistic works can be found in public collections in the U.S., Australia, and New Zealand.
Mauro Murillo (he/his) was born in Coahuila, Mexico, and moved to San Antonio, Texas in 1995. During high school, he enjoyed the SAYSí art program where he explored creating art in different mediums including graphite, charcoal, aluminum, paper maché, and papel picado. While Murillo was pursuing an associate degree in communication design at San Antonio College, he began to shift his focus toward fine arts. Inspired by a particular drawing class, a creative fire sparked within him leading him to pursue art as a career. After graduating in 2020, his passion for art grew stronger as he started painting with acrylics on larger canvases. Murillo had his first solo show, Personajes Mexicanos, in 2021 at Bear & Ink Gallery at the Upstairs Studios at Blue Star in San Antonio. His work has been exhibited at Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico – San Antonio, the Mexican Cultural Institute in San Antonio, Instituto de Cultura Hispanica in Corpus Christi, Texas, and The Union in Houston, Texas.