Mujeres de Maiz fuel empowerment




Campus Times
March 13, 1998


photo by Alen Zilic

Welcomed by the Boyle Heights community, members of the Kababihan Resistencia (Spanish for resistance, and Tagalog for woman) celebrated Mujeres de Maiz Sunday. Christine Moguel, Desiree Flores and Briseyba Zárate perform during the first anniversary celebration of the day, which was International Women's Day. The group is one of many to perform before an audience of more than 400 people.


by Jennifer Cuevas
Staff Writer

In the heart of East Los Angeles at the Community Service Organization (CSO), messages of love, hope, strength and empowerment were dominant at the Mujeres de Maiz (MDM) performance Sunday, March 8, for International Women's Day.

Mujeres de Maiz, (Women of the Corn), "was born out of the need for women to communicate collectively for empowerment," said Felicia Montes, coordinator of the MDM event.

As Montes explained, MDM was originally an idea that began among an experienced performance group called In Lak Ech, which means "You are my other me" in the ancient language of the Aztec civilization -- Nahuatl.

Montes described MDM's name as significant in that the sign of the corn is used as a symbol of the diversity in colors, forms and styles of the women involved.

According to the members, MDM is a spiritual community of women, dedicated to the communication of creativity through visual and performing arts, including women of all ethnicities, sexual orientations, ages, languages and religions.

The gathering of women "of mixed waters" from the four corners of Earth, was the theme created by members of Mujeres de Maiz for Sunday's event.

With more than 400 people in attendance, MDM proved that not only was the event a success, but that the need for such a circle of women, serving both as a support group and a creative works circle, is needed within the community.

"It is important to be here because it is very rare that you have events of such magnitude in East LA, focusing on expressions of [women's] art. It is a very creative and energetic environment," said Stacy Macias, attendee.

Paintings, drawings, slide shows, altars, poetry readings, singing, dancing and performance poetry groups were some of the expressions of art exhibited, which featured topics on the effects of colonization, imperialism, sexism, and racism. Montes describes the above as topics that many of the women recognize within the circle.

One artist, Ymasumac who is half Quechua Indian and half European, read poetry concentrating on her indigenous roots. Ymasumac also explained how she became involved in MDM through a friend and why it was so important to be part of this collective.

She said, "There is a need for women's artistic creation to unite. I believe that through a diverse interaction of ideas, the truth will eventually arise, whatever the truth is, I don't know, but we'll know one day."

Men were also present at the event. One attendee, Anton Morales, member of the Los Angeles band Los Pochos, explained why he felt it was important to be at the MDM event.

"I'm here to see how my peers are going to express themselves. You have to support each other, that's how we communicate and understand [one another] better," he said.

MDM has grown incredibly from an estimated eight mujeres just one year ago, to the current 30 who participate actively in the circle. The women range from experienced artists who perform regularly to novice performers. The mujeres believe that life is art and that there is a role for everyone who would like to get involved.

Meetings are held bi-weekly on Wednesdays at the CSO in East Los Angeles. For more information, call the group's hot-line at (626) 309-2210.



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