Rebekah Crisanta de Ybarra (enrolled Maya-Lenca, El Salvador, b. Tomah, WI) is an Indigenous-Salvadoran-Norwegian-American interdisciplinary contemporary artist, musician, and culture bearer whose work is rooted in Indigenous Futurisms. Her work seeks to shift consciousness around immigration, borders, exodus and interconnectedness of Indigenous Peoples of the Americas. Her interdisciplinary social practice (visual art, music, theatre, dance, literature, puppetry & public art) often speaks from a perspective of Liberation Theology about shared and erased ancient histories. She writes and performs bilingual music under the pseudonym Lady Xøk, recording with Electric Machete Studios, a Twin Cities Latinx Art and Music production house. The recurring themes in her bodies of work across disciplines are ethnoastronomy, animal stories, migrations, petroglyphs, climate resilience, apocalypse, resistance, freedom of the soul, and women.
Rebekah is currently collaborating on a commissioned short film of collected stories from the Minneapolis uprising following the death of George Floyd. Recent projects include a Minnesota Center for Book Arts Jerome Mentorship to foster her ongoing public art project, The Maya Calendar Project, and Red Eye Theatre’s New Works 4 Weeks Festival cohort for experimental performance artists, Mirrors & Windows fellowship for children's literature, a 2019-2020 artist residency with Chicano & Latino Studies department at the University of Minnesota, and new performance work on climate resilience. In addition she continues to tell Maya-Lenca stories through experimental performance and puppetry, such as Star Girl Clan, with support from the Jim Henson Foundation, and continue artistic research projects for tribal cultural revitalization in the diaspora such as ceramics, petroglyphs, and star stories. A recent song in Lenca Putum about immigration, Central Americans, and the state of the border was pressed into vinyl and released by KRSM radio in Phillips neighborhood.
Rebekah has exhibited, performed, and curated extensively in her home base of the Twin Cities, Minnesota, collaborating with many arts organizations including the Minnesota Museum of American Art where she was the inaugural artist in residence, MN Orchestra Hall, Cedar Cultural Center, Watermark Art Center and Miikanan Gallery, New Native Theatre, Our Space Is Spoken For —Twin Cities Media Alliance, Penumbra Theatre's My America Project, Pillsbury House, Uprising Arts, Forecast Public Art, The Ordway Center for Performing Arts, Paramount Center for the Arts, Public Functionary, All My Relations Arts, United Theological Seminary, Intermedia Arts, and many others. She has been the recipient of several fellowships and awards including the Metropolitan Regional Arts Council (MRAC) Next Step through a grant from The McKnight Foundation and the Minnesota State Art Board's Cultural Community Partnership.
Rebekah has 15+ years of experience as an intergenerational arts educator teaching with ArtStart, Electric Machete Studios, pubic libraries, and schools, as well as with Minneapolis Institute of Art Whittier Summer Camp, the Minnesota Orchestra's International Day of Music, and with Sha Cage's Northern Spark Cedarside project. She is self-taught, family-taught, and studied studio art at St. Olaf College and Holtekilen Folkehøgskole in Oslo, Norway. She was a 2015-2016 apprentice to Armando Gutierrez G., former director of CreArte and recipient of the Folk and Traditional Arts Grant for Ce In Yollotl In Tlapizalli (MN Flute Project) for the cultural revitalization of pre-columbian ceramic flutes. She studied puppetry with Harmolodic Monkeybear, under mentor Gustavo Boada, and as a 2017-18 In the Heart of the Beast PuppetLab fellow. She studied lighting design with Tech Tools under Mike Wangen and participated in the public art Making it Public series with Forecast Public Art, and Native Artist Business Training with First People’s Fund.
In addition to a physical and conceptual practice, Rebekah has worked extensively to raise awareness and address systemic inequity in the local arts ecosystem for Indigenous, Latinx, Black, and People of Color as a consultant, curator, social practice artist, and as part of a greater movement of artist colleagues experimenting with structures, finding pathways, and challenging the status quo of the non-profit industrial complex. She was part of the Hearing Tenant Voices project of the innovative artist-led Creative CityMaking program embedded in the Minneapolis Department of Regulatory Services addressing systemic racism on behalf of renters with city inspectors and Minneapolis police in 2016. She has served as an advisor for rural Minnesota arts immigrant communities. She has served on the board of Springboard for the Arts and currently serves on the boards of the Maya Society of Minnesota and the Science Museum of Minnesota's Indigenous Round Table raising awareness about contemporary Lenca people, Central American collections and issues in the global diaspora.
www.rebekahcrisanta.com @ladyxok @rebekahcrisanta @electricmachetestudios
PBS-TPT MN Original feature artist spotlight