AIGA GNV member spotlight | Marissa Balbuena

Marissa Balbuena  |  AIGA GNV Student Liason

Social Media Task Force | AIGA Unidos | Hispanic Heritage Talks

How did you first get involved with Unidos?

I remember seeing AIGA Unidos on IG and I was immediately captivated. I joined their Slack Channel and saw they were looking for individuals to join their Social Media Task Force. I didn’t even give it a second thought; I filled out the application and was lucky to have been given the opportunity to work with the creators.

Were you part of the planning of the social media campaign?

Yes. Definitely a lot of planning and cross referencing to make sure all the information gets out in a concise manner. I was instrumental in posting graphics to the Linkedin platform. Planning also involved substantial collaboration with different chapter leaders from different states! #Unidos4Everyone

How do you plan to promote specific speakers/panels?

I was assigned to work on posting for Linkedin as an admin. The other two task force members focused on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. Besides posting on the actual AIGA Unidos account, I’ve been promoting on my own personal IG. I also informed my friends, coworkers, fellow classmates, and even family members about the Hispanic Heritage Talks. I think it’s important to emphasize that people in any non-creative field and people of different races/ethnicities are welcome to partake in the event. The variety of speakers includes Latinx/Hispanic chefs, musicians, illustrators, filmmakers, educators, advocates, and beyond. AIGA Unidos was created for everyone and anyone.

Are you familiar with the work of the majority of the speakers?

I recognized Gaby Hernandez – an Assistant Professor of Graphic Design at University of Florida – who is facilitating a student panel. Super exciting! I have not heard of the other speakers, but I registered for a lot of talks. These talks are a really great opportunity to learn about Latinx and Hispanic creatives and their stories. I am particularly interested in Los Últimos Documentary about the Letterpress history in Argentina. Typography is something I’m incredibly passionate about whether it’s learning or experimenting.

How does your Asian Hispanic heritage influence your work?

My personal work focuses on introspection and exploring my heritage. My upbringing with two mothers and a predominantly female family has impacted my life. My upbringing was once seen as unconventional and wrong, which made me uncomfortable as a child. People would constantly pester me and ask me why I didn’t have a dad. Mind you I’m not even ten years old so I’m not even able to answer because I simply didn’t know.

The only male figure I had was my grandpa, who passed away earlier this year. He immigrated to the States from the Philippines by joining the US Navy. Since his passing, my life has definitely not been the same. Although he didn’t have a proper education, he was so innovative and smart, just like his daughter (my mama). He taught me a lot throughout his life. I believe our bond was like no other – we could sit in a room in silence and it wouldn’t be awkward at all.

My Abuelita and Abuelo also immigrated to the States from Ecuador. She was actively involved in raising me. One thing my Abuelita used to make were these fried empanadas con queso y azũcar blanca. I actually did a concept branding project that centered around this dish and it can be found on my website.

In 2016, I finally visited Ecuador and met so many of my cousins. The food, culture, and music was all very inspiring to me and I hope to visit there again.

Although my grandma is a native Key West conch, I explore my relationship with her in my work. She was recently diagnosed with Lewy body dementia, something my family and I have struggled with coping. Her mind tends to focus on the past rather than the present. Some of my visual art pieces explore the idea of fossilizing memories and find a deeper meaning in the comfort of familiar history.

Celebrating my family members and their positive impact on my life is key when identifying myself as they’ve helped me develop into the young Hispanic woman I am today. I work across different disciplines, so being able to utilize visual communication to honor my family members is virtuous to me. Expanding beyond personal reflection to a more universal level, I aim to utilize design as an accessible form of education.

   AIGA Unidos

Published September 25, 2020
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