[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 artist, map (un)maker, mother and doctoral student studying the social dimensions of knowledge and environmental science(ish). After nearly a decade working and listening as a researcher, creative, and curious learner in various institutional and informal contexts, Angélica is excited to focus on work that will (she hopes) honor the familial and collective lineages of traditional ecological knowledge in the Caribbean.
Shaped by the archipelagic dynamic between her personal and professional background, Angélica thinks with and through Caribbean IndigenousBlack theories about food sovereignty and climate justice across generations and contexts, contemporary traditional ecological knowledges and technologies, incommensurability, critical cartographies that move us beyond the settler nation, and the afterlives of archives in and around Puerto Rico and the West Indian + Caribbean
As an artist, she creates work invested in being/becoming a generative mirror for other "primxs de afuera" and in grappling with, for example, Saidiya Hartman's "critical fabulations". Some examples of published works include maps for Professor Yomaira C Figueroa-Vásquez's book "Decolonizing Diasporas" (get her incredible book here), collages for short stories in the 2020 edition of Hispanófila ; an illustration in Frontiers: A Journal of Women Studies, portrait-photography for the anthology Boricua en la Luna, and a queerly beloved 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 installation and performances shows like the living room gallery dimélo. It is her dream to make more performance and installation art (DM for collabs!) Additional visual creations include data visualizations and the cartoons drawn at her child'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 father from rural farming community in the mountains of San Lorenzo, Puerto Rico. She moved around a lot and missed her family a lot and learned to write letters and draw maps as a way of building community across distance of diaspora.
In 2010 Angélica did two big things: she started training as a research scientist at a lab bench and, most significantly, she joined a collective of multi-racial, transnational, and LGBTQ Southerners organizing for liberation. Each of these two distinct learning-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 anti-colonial research practices & ethics. What she learned in research labs about grant writing and data analysis/ visualization, kept her curious about how research could be used to support the brilliant work of her community. Together, these two paths helped Angélica develop a queer, decolonial Black and Indigenous feminist politic that shapes her research and 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 the outside of the island, outside the settler-conquistador imagination ) and descendant of rural farmers and migrant farmworkers, 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 is focus building towards climate justice and critical sovereignty in our respective and related communities across the globe.