Tak­ing the ini­tia­tive for Mex­i­canx cre­atives

Sup­port net­work When John Pi­ca­cio was awarded the artist guest of hon­our at last year’s World­con, his re­sponse was to launch a project for Mex­i­can-Amer­i­can artists

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Last year John Pi­ca­cio was in­vited to be World­con 76’s artist guest of hon­our. He soon re­alised that he was the first Mex­i­can-Amer­i­can to be of­fered the role. “That’s great to be the first,” says the artist, “but the dis­turb­ing ques­tion is, ‘what if I’m the last?’”

There are few Mex­i­can-Amer­i­cans – or Mex­i­canx – work­ing in the US and UK sci-fi and fan­tasy (SFF) pub­lish­ing in­dus­tries. John saw his chance to in­spire change, of­fer­ing to spon­sor two Mex­i­canx to at­tend this year’s con­ven­tion, “and if I got frisky, maybe spon­sor four or six my­self,” he says. As soon as he posted his goal on Twit­ter, au­thor John Scalzi matched two spon­sor­ships. Within weeks, the Mex­i­canx Ini­tia­tive was spon­sor­ing 50 World­con at­tend­ing mem­ber­ships.

“Much of the suc­cess was due to the gen­eros­ity of US, Cana­dian and Bri­tish SFF fans,” says John. “I think many of them are dis­gusted by the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion’s treat­ment of Mex­i­canx peo­ple, and its in­hu­mane sep­a­ra­tions of fam­i­lies and chil­dren at the bor­ders.”

But out of these neg­a­tive re­al­i­ties, John sees only hope. The ini­tia­tive has since in­spired copy­cat projects: An LGBT-fo­cused project saw suc­cess in this year’s World­con, for ex­am­ple.

And the seeds that were sown last year are al­ready be­gin­ning to grow. “In the end, 42 of the 50 made it to World­con,” says John. “Of those, I’d say about 25 have bonded as a fam­ily. We text and email each other, cre­ate projects to­gether, ad­vise and push each other to be bet­ter.” Com­pris­ing a mix of artists, ed­i­tors and au­thors, “it’s the kind of chem­istry that can’t be cal­cu­lated. It hap­pens when the right peo­ple come to­gether in the right mo­ment. It’s our time.”

You can read more about the Mex­i­canx Ini­tia­tive on John’s web­site: www.john­pica­cio.com.

John Pi­ca­cio says that, “Now more cre­ators are launch­ing ini­tia­tives pro­mot­ing di­ver­sity, and I think it’s great.” “The ini­tia­tive has opened my eyes to the im­por­tance of be­ing part of a cre­ative group with the same cul­tural back­ground,” says Gary Vil­lar­real. Artist Te­hani Farr says that, “The Mex­i­canx Ini­tia­tive has not only changed my per­spec­tive on Il­lus­tra­tion but turned my world around.”

“In a coun­try like Mex­ico, the op­por­tu­ni­ties for cre­atives are al­most nil. Be­ing part of a group that recog­nises these dif­fi­cul­ties changes your per­spec­tive,” says il­lus­tra­tor Mar­i­ana Palova.

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