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Favianna Rodriguez (Oakland) collaborating with ShadowLight Productions (San Francisco)

Award: $25,000 Visual Arts grant awarded in 2010

Discontinued: 2013

Graphic artist Favianna Rodriguez collaborated with ShadowLight Productions, its artistic director Larry Reed, and playwright Octavio Solis to transform a successful multidisciplinary shadow theater production, Ghosts of the River, (also by these three artists) into a graphic novel. The book was to be composed of stories taking place at the US/Mexico border, and sought to humanize immigration issues.

Solis’s theatrical script served as the book’s foundation along with graphics and photographs from the 2009 stage production. Rodriguez is an acclaimed graphic artist but had never before created a graphic novel, and the learning curve was steep. She under-estimated the time required and also she faced heavy demands from other projects. Also, time had passed since the play was written and she found that border policies and activism had evolved.

All project partners worked on the project in good faith but mutually decided to abandon it. They returned the grant’s unspent balance of $5,470 in 2013.

Lead artist Favianna Rodriguez  is an Oakland-based printmaker, new media artist, and activist who collaborates with organizations around the country to use art for social change. She is renown for her cultural media projects dealing with social issues.

Founded in 1972, ShadowLight Productions is one of the very few professional shadow theater companies in the world. It honors the traditional form of shadow theatre while innovating through the use of contemporary methods and interdisciplinary approaches. Larry Reed, Artistic Director of ShadowLight Productions, is one of the few American dalangs (traditional Balinese shadow masters).

Octavio Solís is a playwright and director whose works such as El Paso Blue, Santos & Santos, El Otro, The Ballad of Pancho and Lucy have been seen at major theaters around the United States.