On Monday, the City of San Jose Office of Cultural Affairs announced the selection of six local artists to serve as 2022 Creative Ambassadors. Creative Ambassadors will serve a one-year term beginning January 1, and during this time they will produce a creative project that engages San Jose residents and celebrates cultural diversity.
Ambassadors were selected through a panel review process during which applicants’ artistic track records, past community engagement work, and connections to San Jose’s diverse communities were considered. Artists within all disciplines were invited to apply.
Stephanie Barajas, Ricardo Cortez, Dana Harris Seegar, Eric Hayslett, Amy Hibbs, and Brandon Luu are the six selected 2022 Creative Ambassadors.
Barajas is a San Jose-based Mexican actor, photographer, and arts administrator. Her project titled I Am My Body will explore the relationship we have with our bodies and the struggles we face due to physical appearance. Barajas will engage the community by including portraits and interviews with people from diverse communities and backgrounds.
Cortez is a Chicano digital media artist whose art explores the relationship between technology, sculpture and culture. His project will include a series of artistic workshops for young people where digital and traditional media will mix to explore San Jose’s Lowrider culture. The pieces from these workshops will be combined into a community art exhibit. Cortez currently works at the Miller Center for Social Entrepreneurship at Santa Clara University where he is cataloging a digital archive of rare Lowrider print materials.
Harris Seegar is a second generation Baltic American who draws from her cultural background in her work. She is a printmaker and teaching artist whose creative expression project Dialects of Art includes a series of public lectures and workshops designed to help artists communicate their stories and cultures through art. Seegar was the 2020 Santa Clara County Artist Laureate, co-founded the School of Visual Philosophy art studio and school, and is a core member of San Jose Arts Advocates.
Hayslett founded e2Music Productions, Media & Education and teaches afterschool music programs across numerous South Bay school districts. His project will be a series of percussion workshops with instruments created from recycled reusable containers. The workshops are intended for families in the Stevens Creek and San Tomas neighborhoods of San Jose.
Hibbs is a visual artist and environmentalist whose work covers themes of empathy and belonging within the urban landscape. Her project Transformation Station will be hosted by Veggielution, a community farm, at their Emma Prusch Farm site and South First Street park. Hibb’s project will engage the community by inviting participants to contribute a bad thought, secret, or expression of grief in the form of a drawing or words on a piece of paper. The paper will be shredded and fed to worms, and the worm excrement will be used to as fertilizer for plant life.
Luu is a poet from San Jose who uses his work as an opportunity to bring people of all backgrounds together. His piece We Are San Jose will feature art by local Asian artists and poetry from local community members. Luu will host a social media campaign to collect multimedia content showcasing different parts of San Jose. This content will be the inspiration for Luu’s poetry and will be comprised into a mural.
While serving as 2022 Creative Ambassadors, artists will promote creative expression through social media and interview participation, as well as promoting the Office of Cultural Affairs’ month-long creativity challenge, WeCreate408.