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VOICES presents the work of nine women artists who currently form the collective and share a connection to life in Stockton and to creating art. The VOICES collective was formed in October 2018 with a group of 7 women for an exhibition in March 2019 at the Mexican Heritage Center. Luz Lua, one of the founders of the group states, “our diversity makes us strong. We have different backgrounds with a common thread: sharing our voice through creative expression.” Luz brought her work as an artist and arts educator full circle with the founding of the VOICES collective and the invitation to former students to exhibit with the group, including Celina Gonzalez-Cortez, Cherry Larkins, Leila Valencia, and Adreanna Rodriguez, who are now all practicing artists. In addition, Celina, Allison, and Bird Gallagher are transfer student graduates from Delta College. Celina and Allison are now high school art teachers with Stockton Unified School District, and Bird teaches 3rd Grade at SUSD.
Throughout the years, members have changed but the focus stays constant. The members presenting for this show were invited because they had two important characteristics: passion for their craft and a dedication to helping others in their community. Another fundamental purpose of the group is to encourage women to continue their practice in the arts. Furthermore, the group supports one another in the promotion and organization of exhibitions locally, nationally, and internationally.
The exhibiting artists present a variety of genres and mediums including painting (on canvas and murals), sculpture, mixed media collage, fiber arts, macramé, short documentary film, and dance. In addition, the content of their work demonstrates how contemporary artists express their voice on the human condition, including immigration, racism, climate change, farm labor in California, spirituality, love, and most recently, the impacts of COVID-19. As member artist Bird Gallagher reflects on this past year through her art, “I chose the exploration of organic ebb and flow. Examined but unplanned metaphors. Mapping out a stream of colorful trails that lead along a textured path with patches of hope, resilience, and some established subsistence embedded along the way.”
Each artist uniquely contributes something to the collective whole — “though I am creating alone,” states Cherry Larkins, “together with my fellow artists we are making something through presenting our work for exhibition.”