Featured Artist: Marissa Johnson-Valenzuela
Marissa is a writer, activist, DJ, teacher, and also runs a small literary press. Over the past six years, fiction has become her primary means of artistic expression and she is currently working on her first novel, which starts in Detroit then moves to a fictional Latin American country. In Philadelphia, Marissa has worked, among other places, at two different social service agencies; such positions took her all over Philadelphia and into homes, schools and courts. The humanity and complications of those experiences are the inspiration for some of her short stories including "Bootstrapping," published by Make/shift magazine. Overall her stories explore themes of what we owe other people, of judgment and value, and of resilience and self-determination. Marissa has organized, with Leeway, a social change writers networking meetings and also started a quarterly series of literary salons. Additionally, she is the co-founder of Thread Makes Blanket press, which is dedicated to publishing justice-minded books that may not otherwise find a home. She is currently instructing a college course on Prison Literature while also facilitating a correspondence course on Latino History and Culture for inmates in solitary confinement in Pennsylvania (a project of Books Through Bars Philadelphia).
Marissa can still be found DJing for a good cause and good dancing. A free download of one of her tracks is available here.
Video produced by Debbie Rudman (ACG '09)