After moving to Santa Cruz in May of 2019, founder of Mi Gente CA, Isabel Contreras noticed one essential thing missing from the area: culture. Being an artist of color herself, Isabel has always advocated for cultural representation in creative spaces in her artistic career since 2014. Because of the lack of cultural art events, Isabel decided to organize her first arts festival for Día de Muertos on Oct 31, 2021! Little did she know, this event was more important than she could have ever imagined...
In connecting with so many underrepresented artists from surrounding areas at the event, Isabel heard their stories about the lack of space and advocacy for them in Santa Cruz and knew she had to continue with the work she had [unknowingly] started. After much debate of whether she was prepared for this work, Isabel realized this movement was so much bigger than her own experience; this was a call to continue amplifying the stories of all artists to feel seen and represented in this community.
Finally jumping on the opportunity the Universe had presented her, Isabel officially created Mi Gente CA on Jan 11, 2022, which was also her 24th birthday. She organized her inaugural event, "Block Party" on July 3rd, 2022 in collaboration with Barrios Unidos, which held space for over 50 vendors! Since then Isabel has gone on to organize a number of cultural festivals, dance evenings, and networking socials. Her work has been valued and recognized in the community so much, that she received a Mayoral Proclamation for Hispanic Heritage month on September 12, 2022, just a couple months after her first Mi Gente event.
Isabel continues to curate unique events that make everyone feel valued so they can continue to showcase the light that shines within them.
Isabel is an Indigenous artist who received her BFA in Communication Arts from Virginia Commonwealth University, and has since been exploring positions in graphic design, illustration, and marketing. Whether it's a new art piece or community project, Isabel's main focus is to prioritize culture, representation, and inclusivity in her work. She enjoys creating work that people can identify with and aims to create and build spaces that support and give back to the community.