February 20, 2019—Ernesto Javier Martínez has been awarded a $5,000 NFA Artist Grant from the National Association of Latino Arts and Cultures (NALAC). An associate professor in the UO Department of Ethnic Studies, Martínez is also a member of the Center for the Study of Women in Society’s Advisory Board.
Martínez is one of 43 grantees from among 400 applicants to be selected for the 13th cycle of the NALAC Fund for the Arts grant program. According to the grant program manager, “These 43 recipients are recognized for their artistic excellence in pursuit of social justice through the arts and were selected from a pool of over 400 applications by a national peer panel process involving 45 arts experts representing diverse disciplines, regions and ethnicities.”
Martínez received the grant “to support the continuation of the Femeniños project, a children’s book and short film series highlighting the experiences of queer Latino/x boys and the families who bear witness to their lives. This project began in 2017 as a collaboration with the San Francisco-based children’s book author Maya Christina González and has expanded to work with the Los Angeles-based independent film director Adelina Anthony and Oregon-based Hollywood film director Omar Naim. Through the Femeniños project, the artist aims to empower queer Latinx youth through stories that capture their imaginations, embody their cultural roots and represent queer lives in a positive light.”
CSWS is one of several UO units that have provided grant support to Professor Martínez for his work on this project. In 2018, Martínez published the children’s book When We Love Someone We Sing to Them, which reframes a cultural tradition to include LGBTQ experience. La Serenata is a film adaption of the book.
“Both the screenplay and the book,” Martínez said, “tell the story of a Mexican-American boy who learns from his parents about serenatas and why demonstrating romantic affection proudly, publicly, and through song is such a treasured Mexican tradition. One day, the boy asks his parents if there is a song for a boy who loves a boy. The parents, surprised by the question and unsure of how to answer, must decide how to honor their son and how to reimagine a beloved tradition.”