La Morena’s art and activism stems from a place of intuitive absolution, an acutely imperative and urgent female super power she believes all women possess innately. From this intrinsic perspective, she is able to tap into a spiritual will for change that demands action and requires actualization in which to manifest a global criticism of the collective attention. La Morena’s murals bode beautiful exclamations of cultural symbolism and empowerment, however the extraordinary of La Morena is an unprecedented awareness and fluency in the language of womanhood. She testifies to the issues beyond the obvious, astutely focusing on evoking the tangibility and vehemence of intuition and empathy, she wants the viewer to truly know, to feel what the women or child is feeling; then the soft invitation to relate and realize the connection within ourselves. Her work invokes this practiced knowledge that relies on the implication of spirituality and challenges not simply the perception of subject but the reaction to said perception. While visiting, she mentioned the tentativeness in her approach to these complex feminine subjectivities, but it’s a divine gift that’s absolutely hers to give.
July 14, 2017 6:30pm via skype
Who is La Morena?
La Morena: My full name is Lucinda Yrene Hinojos. I’m 35 years old, mother of 3, and raised here in Phoenix, Arizona. My whole family is here, I come from a community that goes back four generations; I’m Mexican/American and Native Apache from the White Mountains. However, I identify as a Chicana artist.
La Morena is a new name that has developed for me as a street artist. How the name came about is pretty funny because [street artists] Gaia, Mata Ruda and I were painting a mural in Yuma and we had no shade. I mean, I’ve always been dark, I was dark as a kid, but it wasn’t until we got back from Yuma and they were like, “My god, Morena! Morenita!” I was like, how rude! But then it stuck, all my peers and coworkers started calling me La Morena and I thought, you know what, I’m going to make this my name. I got my street artist name. I reached out to Gaia and thanked him, he was like “Yes!” It means dark skin, brunette, so I ran with it.
How did you get started in art?
La Morena: So, I got started in art when I went to Glendale community college in 2000. I went for Computer Graphic Art and I took classes in drawing, like life drawing. That’s when I discovered, oh shoot, I know how to draw! I didn’t do anything with it because I didn’t know what to do, at the time I was pregnant with my first son, I was 18, working full time and playing professional soccer. After a year or two, I got pregnant again. I was like, this is too overwhelming. I left school, worked two jobs and took care of my kids and their father for 12 years. It wasn’t until 2010 that I picked up a pencil again, I was like, let me see if I can still draw and then I still had it! After I left my kid’s father in 2012, it was a domestic violence relationship, I was seeing a therapist and found out I had depression. My therapist told me that I should get back into my art. I knew no one in the art community, but I had this friend who did events, so I put on an art show with 15 local artists in the back of a restaurant in Tempe and 300 people showed up!
In 2015 I was hit up by the Human Rights Organization in Tucson to do a show with NetRoots and Mark Silver to do a project with a group of east coast muralists in downtown Phoenix regarding immigration. We were shut down twice and it got a lot of attention from the community, publications came out and documented it, the community came out and helped. This was my awakening. I had 3 kids, I had never paid attention to what was really going on. And, that moment changed my life, I was politically awoken, culturally awoken and knew this was something I wanted to do. From there I linked up with Mata Ruda, another artist on the project and we started dating, he came to Phoenix and we began collaborating on big projects. That’s how it started!
One of the consistent subjects in your work is feminism. However, your work expresses an understanding that goes beyond the traditional observation of the body. How do motherhood, spirituality and feminism influence your work?
La Morena: I am a mother of three kids, I still work full time, I do art full time and it can be really exhausting, and my spiritual practice keeps me sane. So many women are talking about this, the body, and external experiences, but they aren’t talking about what they are naturally here for, what we have within us. Women have strong inutitions, we carry that with us, we are mothers, we nurture. Male artists tend to think as a loner artist, they seem to sacrifice family, love, significant other, whereas female artists won’t do that! I won’t sacrifice any of it; you can do it all! I’ve preached that, if I can do it, you can do it. I can still have a relationship; I can still have family, and do art. I get my inspiration from all of these things, my kids, being a mother, my spirituality. I’d like to talk about that and show that in my work.
Who are the women that inspire you the most?
La Morena: My grandmother, and her mother. My grandmother is amazing; she is like a history book. I’m learning to be a curandera, a natural healer. I’m learning both from my Native American roots and Mexican roots and mixing it. Another women, is my mentor Gypsy Luna, who I look up to in the practice. This is where the spirituality in my work is coming from. I get a little scared to talk about it, because people don’t understand and don’t want to hear about it. But the energy around it is amazing! The capabilities I have and what I can do, I mean, I can do natural healing with my hands, I want to carry that into my work, the real healing is in the artwork. I think that when you speak of divine purpose, I’m absolutely living it. I’m doing what I’m supposed to be doing.
What is next for you?
La Morena: I want to get into doing more murals, I do a lot of exhibits, but my murals are getting attention. This month I’m participating in Wall Therapy in New York, so after that I hope to get more opportunities and I want to do residencies. There’s a place in Oaxaca I want to go, I’m so inspired by the culture and indigenous ways, I want to draw and paint in that environment and see what happens.
Is there anything you can tell me about the piece you’ll be working on for Wall Therapy?
La Morena: I have an image in mind that I’ve been working on, but I might change it last minute. It was of my daughter, dressed up in cultural outfit holding sage and the shell that I cleanse with, but I cringe, I’m scared about what people will think. My daughter has been with me through everything, and I think this mural could represent the kids in her shoes and the women in my shoes, I want to paint that.
Please visit www.wall-therapy.com to learn more about La Morena’s project and how you can become involved and invested in making a difference in art education and activism.
Photograph and artwork acknowledgements go to: