Art For Ourselves: What do you do and why? (credit to Heben and Tracy from Another Round for this question!)
Angela Lemus-Mogrovejo: As of now, I am currently unemployed officially with time spent at an internship at a tutoring location in Claremont known as Middletree Academy. Essentially, I do non-profit tutoring and database support work to help out students ranging from elementary to high school age. I think if I am being honest it started out mainly as a way of having some kind of work to build skills and leave my house once a week. As of now, I see it more as a chance to get more involved in teaching and writing support to students and I enjoy it immensely. One on one work with peers and people I mentor has always been something I have enjoyed to be a part of but any means of actually being paid for it would be a great help to stabilizing my life situation.
AFO: How do you identify/what are you intersecting identities? (if you feel comfortable sharing)
ALM: This is always a bit of a tricky question as I feel like the whole list sounds like a run-on sentence after a while. Nevertheless, I will do my best to give a rough sketch of my identities, particularly the ones I hold closest to me. In terms of how i identify, I am a disabled trans woman of color, in particular of Bolivian/Mexican descent, who probably falls under a category of low-income/poor due to long term unemployment. While I would add that I have been without consistent income for a while, the access I do have through family to resources for things like a computer or some occasional money means I am in a financially nebulous spot. Furthermore, while I would say bigender (and potentially non-binary by extension) feel a tad more accurate to say for my own self-definition, I barely get considered or feel trans as it is so I try not to make a fuss about it. Lastly, I would say I hold being a survivor of sexual assault by a best friend during childhood very close to my sense of being as (through therapy) I have discovered I hold quite a lot of beliefs influenced by that incident and other instances of abuse. It is a difficult thing to have be a part of me but it would feel incomplete to answer this question without mentioning it.
AFO: What are current projects you’re working on?
ALM: As of now, I am in the midst of getting songs written and arranged, to hopefully start getting a full album put together sometime in the future. I swear I have been working on this thing for over ten years now and I am only now getting things sorted out for a fully realized album. As of now, I have about 3 of 10-12 potential songs finished with words and hope to get more done when I finally write the lyrics out.
AFO: What are some things that make your blood boil?
ALM: I think really the one thing that makes my blood boil is how I see my woc friends be treated by other people, especially other moc or partners in their life. Over the past year I have intentionally tried reaching out to woc friends to chat and know them better and I am constantly saddened to hear of how much they have gone through in their lives. Not only that but I am also angered to find out much of this stress is prompted by men of color in their same communities who continuously fail to show up and support them. So much of my own life and the care I have received that has sustained me has been because women of color took the time to provide love and support to me. It honestly bothers me how much moc take this labor for granted and how much they continuously assert their own egocentric conceptions of revolution while blatantly ignoring the work woc have been doing to imagine a better tomorrow, with or without their own needs being met in that future. People have harped about this for ages but it really should not be understated how much moc owe to woc they ignore in their movement work and personal lives.
AFO: What is something you love about yourself?
ALM: This is a bit of a tough one to answer as I have the worst view of myself in comparison to how positively I view others in my life. However, if I had to say something I do like and even love about myself it would be my music. I have been playing and learning about music for over ten years and I have only just come into realizing how proud I can be of my own work. Even if not all of it is the most creative in the world or the most original, they are mine and that is something I am proud of. I am proud to play music and to know how to write songs, for myself and especially for friends.
AFO: What are some qualities do you admire in other people?
ALM: If I had to pick one quality that captures much of what I love in other people, it is passion. For me, seeing someone be passionate about something, particularly when it involves care or support for others is the most attractive and endearing thing anyone can do. I love seeing people express themselves and the way they move through the world/life with fire in their hearts and the habits they feel most passionate about seem to always bring out that part of their personalities the most. I am also a sucker for artists, musicians, and movement/organizer types as there is always a sense of pure intensity and energy about their work that just always inspires me, that just leaves me feeling ready to see the world as more beautiful or more capable of change than i think possible. Passion is a big draw for me and I just love getting to see people at their most energetic, at their most willing to open up and share the deepest parts of themselves around topics/hobbies they love intensely.
AFO: What is the story of your name?
ALM: For anyone who doesn’t know, the name I go by in writing for Art for Ourselves is not the only name I have gone by before. Several friends I keep in touch with probably still remember my dead name and have transitioned to my current one, yet probably don't know how I got this name. The story behind it is really I chose it in part because I knew someone in my year at college who had a similar name (Angeles) that I found very pretty and enjoyable to say. More than that, I really wanted the name to be something that would sit right with me to say in Spanish and Angela just fit the best. I tend to process the world most through sound and aural processing so finding a name that just sounded right felt like the best way to work with a new name. Plus, it is a name that other Latinx Queer folk tend to understand why I ask them to say it the Spanish way so there is that as well.
AFO: What song do you have on repeat lately?
ALM: I tend to go through cycles where a certain song just gets stuck in my head and won’t go away for a while, usually because of a vocal or instrumental quality that attracts me to it. As of late, the two songs I have stuck in my head are Weight in Gold by Gallant and Redbone by Childish Gambino. I have a very mixed relationship with men singing with high voices as these days it tends to bring up bad associations of heavy metal singers mocking women’s voices. However, there is something about the way Gallant and Glover sing on each track respectively that makes me enjoy the tenderness men’s voices can have, even if they are singing quite intensely. It is nice to be finding men’s voices that don’t immediately put me on edge or give room for tenderness and sweetness I don’t always see in real life.