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“I’m sitting here, in this town square, with my cousin and I’m thinking how it happened that people who look like me in the United States have been put in this little box and labeled as gangsters? That we’re up to no good, that we’re lazy and that we’re only valuable in the position of being service workers in the community. It was a mind-blowing realization because I realized how complex our culture was and how limiting these stereotypes and prejudices were. I think it was a point where even we began to believe that we had to dress and behave this way because it’s what’s expected of us.” — Estella Sanchez”

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“He went on to say ‘I would pull out of the system and go straight into the community and educate that way.’ It was just kind of this moment where it went boom. I didn’t even realize that that’s what I was doing until he pointed it out. He thought I was right in finding all these different people who teach in different ways, allowing for education to happen in an immersive, engaging and relevant way that we feel comfortable with.” — Estella Sanchez

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“I don’t think the city is responsible for making it all happen. I think it’s going to take all of us in different capacities to then say we believe in this collective vision and we’re going to all work towards pushing that forward. We all want to see these things in our community, and so in whatever capacity we can, we’re going to work towards making those things happen.” — Estella Sanchez

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“That’s what a collective is—it’s finding a group of people with a shared vision who make you feel that you belong and are supported, and that’s vital.” — Estella Sanchez 

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“Limiting choices, and making a clear path has become the strategy. Programming education this narrowly eliminates the type of student I was in college. Taking all those weird classes and even the classes that didn’t necessarily apply to my major allowed me to become my true self, and it continues to benefit my work today.” — Gioia Fonda

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“My guiding principle can be summed up in the four words ‘Make Shit and Show Up’. Here’s what that means: I believe the studio practice component is essential, people need to just get in there and make stuff and not really question what or why they’re making it. Don’t keep talking about what you’re making, just make it, make a lot of it, and get better at it, AND, make stuff that’s important, meaning challenging to you and intentional. No phoning it in. The show-up part is the part that I didn’t do well in college. Now, I understand you have to be part of the community. No one’s going to care about what you’re doing unless you care about what other people are doing. You have to go to other people shows and go to the galleries. You need to get to know the galleries before you approach them. You need to participate, you need to help other people, and you need to let other people know what you’re doing because they’ll invite you to participate in things.” — Gioia Fonda

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“I thought goddamn, even if I got the highest acclaim in New York City, nobody in my hometown, would ever hear of me. That’s when I realized that creating work for a small, elite body of people while neglecting the vast majority of the country was sort of pointless and hollow.” — Gioia Fonda

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“My education had imprinted the role of cultural producer and culture maker on me, so if we’re only making culture for a tiny number of people that happen to avail themselves to museums and galleries; that’s not making culture that’s serving a micro-culture.” — Gioia Fonda

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I saw the kind of things that you could do to make things happen. My mom worked and saved money, but there were all these different things like bartering and trading also happening. I would see that at our house, and also in the way that our families would help each other, for example, someone knows how to lay concrete and a foundation, another person did roofing, and people traded to get what they need. They were supporting each other and helping each other. — Estella Sanchez

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“The City doesn’t really understand this world, and we don’t truly understand that world. Money should be set aside for full-time positions with security and health benefits and all that shit for somebody to put their art down and say I’ll do this job. I want to make this happen for the community. They need to dedicate money for these jobs. I don’t know how else to describe this role other than art translator. These are jobs for people to work and collaborate with developers, artists, and entrepreneurs to take physical spaces and turn them into working places that create opportunities and employment.” — Trisha Rhomberg

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“A dedicated space for art creates this whole ring around it of positive impacts and energy with things to do, getting people out of their house and into the community.  I’ve always thought of art as the glue to the city because it requires people to connect and support each other or at least offer a way to have something interesting to discover.” — Trisha Rhomberg

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“My school was very much inside a bubble. I initially wanted to blame the program because I didn’t realize until after I started showing other people’s art or selling my art that you have to learn and do all these things yourself. You have to make the connections; the community aspect of supporting yourself as an artist is so essential and different from anything technical that I learned in school.” — Trisha Rhomberg

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“I have no problem with working hard. I could work all night and go all day because it was fun. Knowing that people liked it and they paid money for it, I was like, oh my God, this is it. I wanted to do that all the time. And so I was able to combine my favorite things like making and shopping and art and be my own boss. I never wanted to do anything else. ” — Trisha Rhomberg