NATALIA ANCISO, MFA, MA
b. 1985, Weslaco, TX
Based in Oakland, CA
Natalia Anciso is a Chicana-Tejana visual artist and educator.
Anciso was born in Weslaco in 1985, the eldest of three children to Armando and Idalia Anciso, and raised in Mercedes, a hardscrabble town along the U.S.-Mexico border situated in the Lower Rio Grande Valley of Deep South Texas. Her family has been in the area since the Texas Revolution, and her lineage traces back to both San Nicolás de los Garza, Nuevo León, Mexico, and among Tejones y Sacatiles Indians, Coahuiltecan peoples indigenous to the Zacatal Ranch area along the Rio Grande.
Shortly after her birth, Anciso's family moved to Austin, where they would reside until she was the age of 10. She would eventually move back to the Rio Grande Valley to her parents' hometown of Mercedes, where she would graduate from Mercedes High School in 2003. After high school, Anciso attended The University of Texas at Austin, where she would earn her BA in Studio Art in 2008. Shortly thereafter, she would move to the Fruitvale District of East Oakland, California, attending the California College of the Arts in San Francisco, and earning her MFA with an emphasis in Painting and Drawing, in 2011. In 2015, Anciso was named a Berkeley Distinguished Graduate Fellow, earning her MA in Education at the University of California, Berkeley Graduate School of Education. Both a product and reflection of humble, hardworking, and resilient migrant farmworkers and laborers, Anciso is the first in her family to graduate from college and subsequently, graduate school.
Previously based in Austin and San Francisco, Anciso has made Oakland homebase for over a decade. Her work has been exhibited at various venues including the San Jose Museum of Art, Movimiento de Arte y Culture Latino Americana of San Jose, the Oakland Museum of California, the Vincent Price Art Museum of Los Angeles, the Mexic-Arte Museum of Austin, the National Museum of Mexican Art and the Center for Book and Paper Art in Chicago, Centro Cultural de la Raza of San Diego, Mission Cultural Center for Latino Arts and Galeria de la Raza of San Francisco, The Maloof Foundation for Arts and Crafts, a Smithsonian Affiliate in Alta Loma, CA, in conjunction with Los Angeles-based Craft in America Center, the National Hispanic Cultural Center Art Museum in Albuquerque, Blue Rain Gallery in Santa Fe, the University Galleries at the Ben Shahn Center for Visual Arts at William Paterson University in New Jersey, the O'Kane Gallery at the University of Houston-Downtown, the Joseph Gross Gallery at the University of Arizona, Mexicali Rose Centro de Arte y Medios in Mexicali, Baja California, Mexico and Recyclart at Station Brussel-Kapellekerk in Brussels, Belgium.
In addition to practicing art and exhibiting her work throughout the United States and internationally, she has taught art to a diverse array of youth through non-profit organizations, ranging from the Oakland Leaf Foundation's Urban Arts Program in the Fruitvale District of East Oakland to the Summer Institute for the Gifted at the University of California, Berkeley, as well as the Mission District Clubhouse of the Boys & Girls Clubs of San Francisco, where she served as Art Director. She has taught Grades K-8 as a Substitute Teacher for several years in urban schools across the San Francisco Bay Area. She completed her student teaching in elementary schools in East Oakland and has taught full-time in the East Bay and San Francisco. Anciso has more recently spoken at The Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., as well as facilitated various art workshops as a guest lecturer and speaker to undergraduates, Master's and Doctoral students through the University of San Francisco School of Education, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, The George Washington University, and the University of Houston-Downtown, among other venues and forums.
Her contributions as an Artist have been acknowledged by The Huffington Post, who identified her as one of "13 Latina Artists Under 35 You Should Know," as well as Latina Magazine, which named her as an Innovator in their Latina 30 Under 30 list of Celebrities, Style Stars, Innovators, and Influencers. She was featured in ELLE Magazine's 30th Anniversary Portfolio, titled, "This is 30." The portfolio highlights 35 women who are recognized as "outstanding musicians, comedians, politicians, artists, activists, novelists, athletes, and actors" who turned 30 in 2015. TVyNovelas (USA) named her to their "Lideres de la Hispanidad/Los 50 hispanos más importantes de hoy" (Hispanic Leaders/Top 50 Latinos) list of accomplished Latinos from all over the world. Recently, she was featured on the cover of Caliber Magazine (University of California, Berkeley), which ran a story on her life as an artist, educator, and mother. She has also been covered by the likes of Travel+Leisure, Daily Kos, and Fortune.
Her work has also appeared in several publications including The A-Z of Leadership (Iniva Creative Learning, 2015), Bringing Human Rights Education to US Classrooms: Exemplary Models from Elementary Grades to University by Susan Katz and Andrea McEvoy Spero (Palgrave Macmillan, 2015), New Art, New Markets by Iain Robertson (Lund Humphries, 2018), and Meditación Fronteriza: Poems of Love, Life, and Labor by Norma Elia Cantú (The University of Arizona Press, 2019).
United States Secretary of Education, John King, Jr., made a particular reference to Anciso along other notable artists in relation to civic education and the arts, stating,
"How can we expect a student to make the next Hamilton or to become the next Kara Walker, Natalia Anciso, or Kehinde Wiley if she's never been inside a theater, analyzed a painting, or had the chance to deeply study American history?"