EBOS December 2023
Sen Mendez (they/them), also known as Queen Sen, is a non-binary indigenous (Otomí and Nahua-Pipil) interdisciplinary artist, cultural practitioner, entrepreneur, and educator deeply rooted and born in the Huichin Ohlone Territory/Oakland, California.
Their work addresses themes of decolonization, ancestry, migration, gender justice, disability justice, and mental health.
Their personal creative practice spans from their healing process to embrace their identity as a first-generation, transgender non-binary person, with complex Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and Anxiety, embracing mental health and intergenerational healing through visual art and storytelling.
Their artistic practice employs visual storytelling through block printing by creating a space for community engagement within the intersections of LGBTQIA+, Indigenous, Disabled, Refugees and Immigrant individuals to empower personal narratives, envision futures of liberation, and heal intergenerational trauma.
Sen’s intention is to create a visual story that humanizes narratives among the following communities: LGBTQIA+, Indigenous, Disabled, Refugees and Immigrants.
Sen’s creative partnerships include Queer Ancestors Project, ARTogether, Macy’s, Center for Empowering Refugees and Immigrants, Moments Cooperative and Community Space, and among many others across the Bay Area. Sen’s work has been exhibited over ten times globally in the United States including France, and published in magazines. art books and anthologies.
Sen returned to their art practice in 2016 and explored various art mediums through community art dinners with friends. After discovering linoleum printing, Sen was drawn to the practice and used the practice as a somatic tool throughout the early stages of their personal therapy journey. They found combining block printing as self reflection to be a unique perspective towards block printing and wanted to share this practice with others.
That is why in 2018 and 2019, Sen was awarded for the Wellness in Action Mini-Grants with Center for Empowering Refugee and Immigrants in Oakland to launch and facilitate ‘Y(our) Legacy’, a trauma-informed block printing workshop to build personal power among refugees and immigrants affected by war, torture, genocide or other extreme traumas so as to improve their emotional, physical, social and economic wellbeing.
Y(our) Legacy goal is to create an accessible art-therapeutic setting where community can explore their own artistic expression constructing empowering narrative, and unapologetically envisioning their liberation story through the process of block printing as a somatic tool to carve away pain and heartbreak to end with a final image of healing and relief.
During COVID-19, Sen partnered with ArTogether for the 2021 and 2022 workshop facilitations through virtual settings via Zoom. In 2022, Y(our) Legacy 2021 visual stories were published into the first volume of ‘Y(our) Legacy zine’ and exhibited at Moments Cooperative & Community Space as well as Hasta Muerte Coffee Shop in Oakland, California.
As a result we encountered visual stories where participants can connect on shared narratives without the struggle of language barriers and cultural differences. Sen reflects about the process by saying, “These visual stories are communication tools that can be used to tell their personal narratives as ancestral knowledge in the past for the benefit of present and future generations.”