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Pochas Radicales: Life, Death And The Radical Act Of Conversing


Andrea Telles (left) Elizabeth Leon (center), and Blanca "Stacey" Villlalobos.

Andrea Telles (left) Elizabeth Leon (center), and Blanca "Stacey" Villlalobos.

Courtesy of Pochas Radicales.

Back in 2014, one of our guest curators, Victor Maldonado, introduced us to a Pacific Northwest College of Art student: Elizabeth Leon. Leon loved working in the photographic medium, but she wasn’t really sure about her place in the art world. Growing up, she says, she didn’t think becoming an artist was an option.

“I come from a family that’s very traditional. I got to art school and the tour guide was like, ‘you should look at other places, I don’t know if you’re going to make it here,’” she says.

Yet, she did make it, and now Leon finds herself as part of a collective of queer-identified Latina collective, Pochas Radicales. They received a Precipice Fund grant, passed from the Andy Warhol Foundation through Portland Institute for Contemporary Arts to the community. With the money, they’ve a bilingual podcast (launched Feb. 14) called echo/hecho. The show has a strong element of social practice. There’s a lot of storytelling, and the group frequently delves into the construction of language and how it shapes identity.

Joining Leon are Blanca Stacey Villalobos and Andrea Telles. The forming of their partnership is, to hear them tell it, a story of survival. Telles was feeling a lack of community for queer Latina women in Portland. Then, one day two separate friends mentioned an artist they knew. This led to her cold-emailing Villalobos. The two hit it off and brought Leon into the fold a bit later.

Elizabeth Leon (left), Blanca "Stacey" Villalobos (center), and Andrea Telles (right). Telles says their first meeting "was so powerful. I think we stayed for, like, three hours. The coffee shop probably hated us."

Elizabeth Leon (left), Blanca "Stacey" Villalobos (center), and Andrea Telles (right). Telles says their first meeting "was so powerful. I think we stayed for, like, three hours. The coffee shop probably hated us."

Courtesy of Pochas Radicales

The trio are new to the podcast format. Villalobos has a background in performance art, while Telles and Leon have primarily worked in photography. They’re expanding the circle of voices in the show. Their latest episode includes Arab-American artist Melika Belhaj. They’re also solidifying a manifesto to guide the podcast and other related projects — a queer chingona theory (Need a translation? Click here). Future plans for echo/hecho involve creating a mobile gallery space and recording studio. Watch for their event at S1 art space this fall. 

You can listen to echo/hecho by visiting their SoundCloud page.

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