Jackie Amezquita on Migration, Memory and Making Art
From the ArtCenter College of Design’s Bi-Weekly Podcast
ArtCenter College of Design’s bi-weekly podcast features intimate interviews with leading artists examining the ideas fueling their work and how the creative process can be a catalyst for change—personally, professionally and globally. Hosted by ArtCenter President Lorne M. Buchman, these conversations examine the many ways in which artists and designers are enriching our lives. ArtCenter College of Design is a global leader in art and design education; and our mission statement—Learn to create. Influence change—lies at the center of all we do.
When we last spoke with Jackie Amezquita four years ago, she was an ArtCenter Fine Art student on the cusp of graduating. In a raw and revealing interview, she traced the arduous path she’d walked to find the stability she needed to risk everything for her art.
Her remarkable journey (captured in episode 14 of Change Lab) began in her native Guatemala, where surging violence and poverty had forced Jackie’s mother to migrate to the United States to provide for her family. At age seventeen, Jackie followed her mother’s footsteps to the U.S. (quite literally), and barely survived a dangerous border crossing.
After years spent working as an undocumented nanny to put herself through community college, Jackie eventually earned her Bachelor of Fine Art at ArtCenter. Her thesis project drew international media coverage when she bravely embarked on a second grueling walk from the Tijuana border all the way to Downtown Los Angeles.
The power of her resilience and grit continues to stand out as an example of a purpose-driven artist whose message brilliantly aligns with her chosen medium. And the hardships she’s transmuted into art resonated all the more this season of Change Lab, as we explore the alchemy of creativity and adversity.
Jackie now returns to Change Lab to reflect on the last four years of her journey, as she puts the finishing touches on her MFA thesis at UCLA. She’s continued her investigation into displacement and the plight of undocumented migrants by revisiting family trauma to give depth and dimension to a painful story that needs to be told.
Jackie Amézquita (b. 1985) is a Central American artist based in Los Angeles, California. Amézquita was born in Quetzaltenango, Guatemala, and migrated to the United States in 2003. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Fine Art from ArtCenter College of Design and an Associate degree in Visual Communications from Los Angeles Valley College. She is a Master of Fine Arts candidate in the New Genres program at the University of California, Los Angeles (2022).