When I last spoke with Jackie Amezquita four years ago, she was an ArtCenter Fine Art student on the cusp of graduating. In our 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 US (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.
I think a lot about the choices that we make in order to create change within us to create that bigger change around us.Jackie AmezquitaArtist
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.