introduction & intentions
Photo by Bernice Mulenga.
BIO, an introduction
Helen Peña is a Dominican-American child of the Atlantic, filmmaker, and community organizer from Miami, FL. They use filmmaking to tell the stories of poor and dispossessed third world women and their relationship to the natural world for subsistence and spiritual practice. In 2017, Helen co-founded (F)empower, a collective of queer feminist artist-activists. For 2 years, Helen worked in Digital Communications for racial justice organization, the Dream Defenders. Their art and organizing has led them to curating activations at the Museum of Modern Art, the Norton Museum of Art, ICA Miami and more. Their work has been featured in publications like Dazed, i-D magazine, and Hyperallergic. In 2020, Helen participated in the UCLA Sanctuary Spaces Residency, where they worked on their first short film, When Angels Speak of Love, which premiered at Third Horizon Film Festival, showed at festivals around the country, and screened on PBS South Florida. Alongside directing, they are a production designer interested in building upon the caribbean surrealist and Black feminist aesthetic for film.
ARTIST STATEMENT, intention setting
I am a multimedia artist who uses photography, video art, and filmmaking to create ritual portraits of Black and brown, rebellious, dispossessed women of the Third World. I focus on women's relationship to the natural world, for subsistence and spiritual practice. My art weaves afro-diasporic religion and spirituality with revolutionary theory, the material and the spiritual, working and reworking the rituals and stories told to awaken love, collectivity and solidarity within us. My work is rooted in a community-based practice, I work with the people I organize with and collaborate with women in my community to tell stories inspired by and for the people. The artistic process involves relationship-building, deep listening (to those alive and dead), dream-making, and engaging in ritual and meditation to access the spiritual realm. I am inspired by the surrealist tradition in the Caribbean, Black feminist theory, and decolonial movements internationally. Ultimately, my intention is to return us to ourselves and each other, repair the break between dream and reality, rendering colonial ideologies obsolete and becoming an offering for revolutionary feminist movements globally.
bell hooks says "a culture that is dead to love can only be resurrected by spiritual awakening" , my intention is to resurrect love through culture.
toni cade bambara says, “because the material without the spiritual and psychic does not a dialectic make,” my intention is to complete the dialectic by weaving the spiritual, psychic and material together.