Meet Valery Mendoza-Martinez (she/her), Community Arts Program Manager at LA Commons! Valery is from Los Angeles and the Inland Empire, and she has been working at LA Commons since September 2022.
What brought you to LA Commons?
I have been able to witness the dire need for the use of both community organizing and art in my personal and professional experiences to make transformative change. I wanted to work in a space where arts and culture surrounds me for inspiration and healing.
LA Commons mission is to "engage communities in the creation of public art that tells their unique stories and serves as the basis for dialogue, interaction, and a shared understanding of Los Angeles."
What meaning does this statement have for you personally?
Storytelling and documentation are key components of preserving our historic Black and Brown neighborhoods in Los Angeles. My family has a rich history of migration and arrival to Los Angeles and a deep connection to the city as their first home away from home. I find this oftentimes, as it’s the same case for many other Black and Brown communities across the city. To understand Los Angeles is to acknowledge and value the stories of those who continue to be resilient against gentrification and displacement.
What has been your favorite part about working at LA Commons?
Day-to-day interaction with vibrant community members who remind me of my community and connection to culture. Building strong community connections is the backbone of successful art projects, so it's been amazing to work towards establishing strong ties with community members and partners, especially after COVID lockdowns.
Do you do anything outside of work? If so, please describe!
I like to draw and paint, and I love making jewelry and sewing. Mutual aid is very important to me! During the pandemic, I worked on a mutual aid art fundraiser that redistributed funds to BIPOC in need of financial support in the midst of the pandemic and hope to build the infrastructure to keep a mutual aid art collective running year round.
Where's your favorite spot in LA? Why?
The Produce/Piñata District off of Central and
Alameda. I have some of my best memories visiting these spaces throughout my upbringing with my family in search of ingredients or cooked meals from our home state in Mexico. Lined with colorful piñatas and traditional celebratory decorations and foods, the Piñata District is always bustling with cumbias, sizzling stoves, and vendors all around. You can find the best quesadillas in LA here!
What are you listening to/watching/reading right now?
I am currently watching We're Here and Sex Lives of College Girls on HBO Max, and listening to Susto, a spooky podcast on scary stories and cultural storytelling. Also reading Becoming by Michelle Obama and Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia.
We’re so happy to have Valery on the LA Commons team. Look out for future upcoming staff spotlights to meet our other team members!