Native American street artist Votan Henriquez believes art is needed to educate our kids on indigenous peoples, their heritage and legacy of which has otherwise been omitted from history books used in schools.
The Los Angeles native, who is of Mayan and Nahua roots, blends his knowledge of his ancestry, his experience of graphic design and art, and awareness of the issues facing native people to create artworks which include blending contemporary art techniques with old Mayan symbology to make a statement.
Votan Henriquez says: “Much information from the indigenous perspective has been disseminated for the last 500 years. Traditional knowledge and wisdom has been published via websites, books, workshops and other social media. Our contribution in this transformation of consciousness is in the arts.
“In a world where evidently we see despair, apathy, complacency, and much more careless human behavior, we believe in challenging that state of mind and offering a different perspective. One that will be inclusive of all here now, and not a divisive and alienated view of the world.
“When I speak about myself, I’m speaking as a small part of a greater ancient source. The source of all our relations. Without you, there is no us.”
In one of his recent artworks, Votan Henriquez re-imagined a popular sketch from The Simpsons where Bart has to stay after class to write lines on the blackboard, to comment on the Dakota Access Pipeline and urge it to stop.
Votan Henriquez’s work is evocative, inspiring people to see and seek always the truth in situations, and take action.
Votan Henriquez recently spoke of how his son was upset when his school teacher told him the Aztecs were “brutal barbarians”. In an interview with KCET, he explained: “We have to go to school because we need to be educated. [But] sometimes we need to do the education ourselves.
“As indigenous people we’ve contributed so many things to the world, and our kids don’t even know [about it]. We really have lost a lot of that through our history books. We need to educate our kids through art.”
Votan Henriquez’s work includes murals, street art, and clothing designs. His company NSRGNTS, launched in 2000, promotes “the transmission of indigenous thought and philosophy” through merchandise including T-shirts, stickers and skateboard decks.
Rosalind Medea is Life & Soul Magazine’s Chief. She is a writer who specialises in sustainable lifestyle and living, music, entertainments and wellbeing. Rosalind also works as a spiritual life coach and intuitive advisor helping people to become who they truly are and manifest their heart & soul’s desires into their lives: www.rosalindmedea.com