Creativity Salon: an Interview with Día Poster Artist Maya Gonzalez

My thanks to Maya Gonzalez for her enthusiasm about Día and for creating this wonderful Día poster.

Maya writes about creativity, the Dia poster and her work:

“My name is Maya Gonzalez. I am an artist, author and educator. I’ve made art for 20 multi-cultural children’s books and written two of those. I’ve also created Claiming Face/Self-Empowerment Through Self-Portraiture: An Educator’s Guide to Building the Powerful Link Between Creativity and A Sense of Self and Gender Now Coloring Book/A Learning Adventure for Children and Adults for Reflection Press. I’ve taught and played and lectured in schools, universities, libraries and conferences. I also make a lot of my own art!

For as long as I can remember I have been a creative beast. Creativity is my life. My blood. A way of being and perceiving the world. I have come to know that we are all artists. It is our birthright and our greatest resource in all of life and it connects us to the power of nature. This is why I am so committed to working with educators to bring creativity as a tool into the classroom for all of our children, but especially our children of color. Over my many years of going into the classroom as an artist working with children, my curriculum called Claiming Face evolved.

I tell kids how I remember being 4 and drawing my round Chicana face on the blank pages in the backs of books. I didn’t find my face in books as a child, but I knew in my heart that we belonged there and that we need to see ourselves. That’s why I teach kids to create images of their selves. I co-founded a press with my husband called Reflection Press to further this work. Our motto is “a people should not long for their own image.” Something happens deep inside of us where there are not always words, when we hold a book or a piece of art in our hands and we can see ourselves reflected back. When I was asked to do the ALA poster for El Dia, I portrayed a grandmother sharing a special moment with many important aspects of life that support and sustain us. These include reading, nature and community with children from many different cultural backgrounds to reflect all the different ways we are.

I began making books in 1995, just in time for El Dia de los Ninos/El Dia de los Libros to take hold in this country in 1997. (Thank you for rooting this perfect tree here Pat Mora!) What a great event. I have celebrated it in schools and libraries for so many years I cannot remember the first. In my imagination it has always existed. I can say though that I would have LOVED this as a child. I was just in Sacramento this month celebrating, telling tales and making art with generous and brilliant children creating portraits of themselves as owls! So wise, so able to see in the dark! And for a moment, surrounded by the big library, the books and owl art and kids and all of life, I felt completely at home. “


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