Posted on February 26, 2016

Ancestry @ JXTA

Ancestry Books has from its inception been a space that could not have been realized without the support of a wide array of individual and organizational partners.  One of those amazing partners has been Juxtaposition Arts.  When we first opened in 2014 we contracted Juxtaposition Arts Environmental Design Lab to design and fabricate our unique bookshelves.   We also contracted Juxtaposition Arts Graphics Lab for the design of our logo.

Such a fantastic partnership has continued to date with Ancestry @ JXTA: a re occurring pop up.  Back in November of 2015, as Ancestry Books no longer had a physical location, Juxtaposition Arts opened up their 1104 West Broadway building (Textile Lab) to host Ancestry Books for Small Business Saturday.  We had a smashing success with so many visitors, old and new that not only supported Ancestry Books but also purchased a number of Juxtapositions’ custom screen printed  clothing gear that is also on display at that location.

We decided to try it again over the holiday season in December and were met with similar excitement and are now, as of February 2016, operating as a re occurring pop up on the weekends.  Our ours are Saturdays 1pm – 6pm, and Sundays 10am – 5pm.

Check out our carefully curated selection of books, from Revolutionary Mothering: Love on the Front Lines to Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe.  Also stay tuned for our April events which we our thrilled to be hosting.  And big bonus is that when you come by Ancestry Books and pick up your favorite lit from your trusted brick and mortar, you can also pick up some of Juxtapositions’ incredible line of t-shirts, hoodies, and bags.

We look forward to seeing you soon!

Posted on October 24, 2014

An Open Letter To Gallery 122 at Hang It

October 24, 2014 An Open Letter To Gallery 122 at Hang It:

It has come to our attention that on Friday October 24, 2014 your gallery will host an opening reception for Afterlife Merriment — an exhibition with artists Jessie McNally and DC Ice scheduled to run until the end of November. We write this letter as concerned Latina/o artists and community leaders. We recognize that this is not an isolated incident, but reflects a larger pattern of injustice. We join in conversation with Latina/os across the country outraged by these issues.

The exhibit hijacks dia de los muertos iconography and invites guests to do so as well by participating in creating an ofrenda without any deep-rooted connection to or investment in the culture and history of the traditions. It is our understanding that no one involved with the exhibit self-identifies as Latina/o. Irresponsible journalism in recent write-ups by Camille Lefevre of the City Pages and Mary Abbe of the Star Tribute further heighten our concerns regarding this event.

Dia de los muertos is not a trending hashtag nor is it Halloween. It is a sacred ritual where the living remember and celebrate their beloved dead. Prior to colonization, indigenous people of the Americas practiced this tradition, which we continue today with our families and communities. Recently, we have witnessed the cultural appropriation of dia de los muertos. We see cultural appropriation as the taking of another’s cultural symbols, traditions, and rituals for individual benefit without the mutual exchange of resources or intentional collaboration. Cultural appropriation is violent and a form of continued colonization.

This exhibit is one example of cultural appropriation. We understand that artists may be inspired by dia de los muertos, but this present work is disrespectful and hurtful. There has been no effort to build relationships with Latina/o artists or the broader community. Those involved with this exhibit potentially will gain economic and social capital from this appropriation, while we as Latina/o artists continue to struggle for gallery space, media exposure, revenue opportunities, and acknowledgement as legitimate artists.

In Minnesota, Latina/o artists are undervalued. When we are invited to participate, we are often asked to donate our time, resources, or even our art. If we are paid, it is often at a lower rate than white artists for similar caliber of work. Nationally, white artists comprise 77 percent of all working artists compared to Latina/os who comprise a mere 8.3 percent.1 It is unjust for people to continue to purchase and exhibit culturally appropriated art.

However, we are not satisfied being invited to the table as your token Latina/o artist. If art galleries would like to showcase dia de los muertos art, it is their responsibility to research and build intentional relationships with local Latina/o artists. We invite non-Latina/o artists who wish to participate in dia del los muertos practices to collaborate with our communities. This means that you do not only acknowledge our existence during dia de los muertos or cinco de mayo, but all year long. Become knowledgeable about our social movements. Work as an ally to fight for immigrant rights, close the educational gap, stop gender violence especially against queer and tran Latina/os (among numerous other issues). To the journalists, we demand responsible reporting that does not rely on stereotypes that misrepresent our cultures.

In closing, we ask you to think more critically about the work exhibited in your gallery and invite you to support Latina/o artists in the future.


Marisa Martinez, Artist and Teacher
Jessica Lopez Lyman, Artist and PhD Candidate
Emmanuel Ortiz, Artist and Community Organizer
Alex Mendoza, Artist and PhD Candidate
Dougie Padilla, Artist and Cultural Activist 

1 BFAMFAPhD, Artists Report Back: A National Study on the Lives of Arts Graduates and Working Artists 2014.

Posted on September 7, 2014

The Shadow Hero: Add this new book to your comic collection

The Shadow Hero  By Gene Luen Yang and Sonny Liew

It is hard to find superhero books that affirm the identity of young readers of color.  Many of the popular superheroes continue to uplift white men as the one who saves the city.  It is especially rare to find Asian-American characters within superhero comics.  This new book, The Shadow Hero is based off of what was to be believed as the first Asian-American superhero, the Green Turtle.  Little is known of the Green Turtle’s origins from the 1940′s comic series.  This comic shares the origin story of Green Turtle, created by the brilliant Gene Luen Yang and Sonny Liew.

Hank Chu is the son of a grocer in Chinatown.  He imagines himself living a simple life running the family business, while his spunky mother envisions a future much different for her son.  She wants him to be a superhero.  She sews him a costume and plots ways for him to gain powers and become the superhero she imagined.  Hank, through trial and error figures out what being the Green Turtle will mean for himself and others.  The story has some similar elements of a superhero storyline.  At the same time, it explores the life of being Chinese-American in the 1930′s, interweaving history, race, and identity within this narrative, while providing many opportunities to laugh.  It is a fun book for young teens, comic lovers, and superhero fanatics.  If you are looking for ways to get back into reading for yourself or your teen, check out the graphic novel collection.  They are engaging, artful, and pure fun!