[Image description: A portrait of Angélica posing with ceiba elder in Adjuntas, Puerto Rico. She is seated on the roots of the ceiba, legs extended towards the camera, arms behind her and her head tilted back in an expression of joy. Angélica is wearing a large white shirt knotted in the front, black leggings, hiking boots, and her dark hair loose around her shoulders.
Angélica De Jesús is an educator and artist, aspiring farmer and map maker, mother and emergent environmental scholar. Over the past 10 years she has worked across grassroots, academic, public, and non-profit contexts to achieve health/ justice gains for and with marginalized peoples in what is currently known as the US.
She studies food sovereignty and climate justice movements as decolonial practice in the Caribbean. At any given time she is likely thinking (and *should be* writing) about archives, contemporary/traditional agro-ecological knowledge, her role as a diasporic daughter or migrant farmworkers and AfroIndingeous Caribbean people, plants, transnational and local recipe sharing, and the linked futures of Indigenous sovereignty and Black liberation in what is currently known as the US.
As a visual artist, Angélica creates works for books, zines, and anthologies. Some examples include collages for Hispanófila and Frontiers: A Journal of Women Studies, portrait-photography for Boricua en la Luna, and an ever so small illustration for the Slow Holler Tarot deck. She has shared performance and poetry works in spaces from art festivals like OUTsider fest in Austin, TX to ephemeral art/house shows like the living room space dimélo. It is her dream to make more theater with others one day. Additional visual creations include cartography (#MapMami), spatial analysis, and the figures drawn at Kiki's request.
Angelica has received fellowships from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), Virginia Commonwealth University,
Michigan State University, and University of Michigan. She currently works in Grand Rapids, Michigan & orbits around her past/present future relatives of all species across archipelagos of time and space. You can find Angélica hanging with trees or at @prima.de.afuera (IG) and her blog (here).
A DEEPER DIVE:
Angelica was born in Honolulu, Hawaii to an immigrant mother from Michoacán, Mexico and diasporic father from the US island colony of Puerto Rico. Given her father's work in the military, Angélica spent her first 14 years moving around the US. To process each move, and the forces driving these early relocations, she started writing and drawing the worlds around her. These early reflective and expressive practices gave way to a lifelong love of art, mapping, and building
After more than a decade of living in Virginia, Angelica embarked on two distinct and interrelated life paths: STEM research and community organizing/
strategizing. Alongside completing academic research training at a lab bench, she joined a collective of multi-racial, transnational, and LGBTQ Southerners organizing around multiple issue-areas including immigrant rights, police + prison abolition, gentrification, gendered violence, and reproductive/health justice. Each of these two distinct paths fed into the other. What she learned in organizing spaces
about building campaigns and shifting narratives kept her curious about knowledge production in STEM (how does knowledge move, who moves it, and why?) and in search of decolonial research practices & ethics. What she learned in research labs about grant writing and data analysis/ visualization, kept her curious about how art and data could be used to support the brilliant work of her peers on local and wider levels. Together, these two paths helped Angélica develop a queer, decolonial Black and Indigenous feminist politic that shaped her research and, now, her mamíhood.
In 2014 Angélica moved from Richmond, VA to Michigan where she joined the Indigenous Youth Empowerment Project (IYEP) as a youth mentor and worked in the non-profit and public sector as public health researchers on interdisciplinary projects and campaigns ranging from Medicaid/Medicare policy analysis, maternal and child health improvement, sexual health and STD/STI support programs, water equity, and urban planning.
During her first year as a graduate student, and three months after giving birth to her first child, Angélica joined millions of diasporic, displaced, and island-based Boricuas in providing support to relatives in the after-math of Hurricane Maria in the winter of 2017. This grassroots work solidified her commitment to working towards climate justice through transnational food sovereignty and agroecological work that acknowledges and addresses all harmful aspects of white settler-colonialism.
In her position as prima-de-afuera (cousin from off the island of Puerto Rico) and descendant of rural farmers, Angélica works in a PhD program at Michigan State University studying the impacts of settler-colonial governance on food and other eco- systems in the Caribbean and collaborates with other Black, Indigenous and Black-Indigenous peoples working towards climate justice and critical sovereignty in our respective and related communities across the globe.