Artivist Ernesto Yerena – who we’ve featured a few times in our State of the Art column – is making a bit of a career change this week when he launches In The Embers a talk show-style program for the web.

“I’m going to be highlighting good culture,” explained Yerena in his studio in Los Angeles. “I see all these good shows and interviews and they get good people to interview but they ask all these stupid questions.”

Yerena developed the show with L.A.-based photographer Rafael Cardenas. “I’m the producer,” said Cardenas, “and the person he bounces ideas off of.” The two met years ago via a mutual friend and Cardenas wrote about him in Citizen LA. “I think I was the first person in LA to write about him,” he said.

Yerena is most well-known for his work with the Alto Arizona campaign, which used creative resistance as one of a few methods to highlight the struggles of immigrants in Arizona under Senate Bill 1070 (SB1070). His piece of a young girl holding a bouquet of flowers became synonymous with the campaign as well as with OBEY Giant’s immigration reform campaign, We Are Human, which he worked on with Zack De La Rocha, Marco Amador (Espacio 1839/Radio Sombra), and Shepard Fairey.

The basis of the show came from the influence of playwright, novelist, and social critic James Baldwin; more specifically, his explanation of the role and purpose of art and artists in society. Yerena shared a few of these ideas with Cardenas and, slowly, the idea of fire as a metaphor for the creative process grew.

“We didn’t use the word ‘Embers’ when we first discussed it,” said Cardenas. “That came to Ernesto after lighting a huge fire one day for a carne asada.”

“It’s like fire as knowledge but it’s also the pain,” explained Yerena as he detailed his own process of developing his personal and political identity. His own pain came from dealing with a number of issues, some related to health (anxiety, depression), and others related to dealing with societal, cultural, and familial expectations as a Chicano born and raised in the border city of El Centro, CA.

Yerena will draw from that experience to host a show where he hopes to engage his guests and his audience on a deeper level by allowing other artists to share their experience and growth.

“All of a sudden you have all this knowledge that you’ve acquired during the fight,” he continued, “and when you have that, you’re not just going to ask someone ‘what’s your favorite pizza stand?’”

The first episode will air live this Thursday February 27th on empowerme.tv and will feature award-winning cartoonist Lalo Alcaraz as the debut show’s guest. New episodes will air every last Thursday of each month.

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