Greetings friends and relatives my name is Zeke...
...it rhymes with geek or freak. Some people call me Zeque or Ezequiel depending on their language. Thanks for taking the time to look at my work. I'm always open to taking commissions if I'm available and I'd love to hear from you about collaborating on something. Or if you're an art director or editor I'd love to tell you all the reasons why you should hire me for your next project.
I’m a cartoonist and illustrator working on the US/MX frontera in El Paso, Tejas.
My cartoons remix history and reclaim stories using satire and humor; resistencia one cartoon at a time. I recently received the Boston Globe Horn Book Award for his illustrations in the graphic biography Photographic: The Life of Graciela Iturbide (Getty Publications 2017). I have also published with VICE.com, Latino USA, The Believer Magazine, The Nib, Penguin Random House, Holt/Macmillan and Cinco Puntos Press. My first children’s book My Papi Has a Motorcycle was written by Isabel Quintero and will be published in 2019 by Kokila a Penguin Books Imprint. I studied Art History and Visual Culture at the University of Texas Austin and I’m self-taught in illustration.
Zeke Peña is a cartoonist and illustrator working on the United States/Mexico frontera in El Paso, Tejas. His comics remix history and reclaim stories using satire and humor; resistencia one cartoon at a time. Zeke recently received the Boston Globe Horn Book Award for his illustrations in the graphic biography Photographic: The Life of Graciela Iturbide (Getty Publications 2017). He has also published with VICE.com, Latino USA, The Believer Magazine, The Nib, Penguin Random House, Holt/Macmillan and Cinco Puntos Press. His first children’s book My Papi Has a Motorcycle was written by Isabel Quintero and will be published in 2019 by Kokila a Penguin Books Imprint. Zeke studied Art History and Visual Culture at the University of Texas Austin and is self-taught in illustration.
Remix + Reclaim
I'm interested in subverting American history and reclaiming stories that were burned by colonialism; resistencia one cartoon at a time.
United States b. 1983 Las Cruces, New Mexico
I'm a cartoonist, an illustrator and a painter working on the US/MX frontera in El Paso, Tejas. My interdisciplinary work explores universal themes of identity, politics, ecology and social justice by remixing contemporary and historical narratives. My process is informed by extensive research, community engagement and historical methodology. I'm self taught in the studio but went to school for Art History + Visual Studies at UT Austin. I use a mezcla of new media and traditional techniques to tell stories that are influenced by cartoons, border culture and indigenous iconography. I use the accessible medium of comics to engage complex issues with satire and comedy. I'm interested in subverting American history and reclaiming stories that were burned by colonialism; resistencia one cartoon at a time.
My work has appeared on album and book covers, in editorials and comics, and as graphics for community organizing. I recently received the Boston Globe Horn Book Award for a graphic biography I illustrated titled Photographic: The Life of Graciela Iturbide (Getty Publications 2017). My work is included in the Transnational Border Biennial (2018), was exhibited at Rose Gallery for Pacific Standard Time LA/LA (2017) and will be featured at the Billy Ireland Cartoon Museum (2018). I’m a recipient of the Rubin Center for the Arts Excellence Endowment (2016), NALAC Artist Grantee (2018), Santa Fe Arts Institute - Arts Residency (2015), MCAD/NEA Artist Incubator Grant (2013, 2015), Siqueiros-Pollock Concurso Binacional Fronterizo de Pintura y Dibujo (2017) and a Working Classroom Artist Resident (2017). My work is included in collections at National Museum of Mexican Art - Chicago, El Paso Museum of Art, National Hispanic Cultural Center- Albuquerque and several Private collections of American and Chicano art.
THE HORN BOOK MAGAZINE
This 2018 Boston Globe–Horn Book Nonfiction Award–winning biography introduces readers to “an icon. Orgullo mexicano. Maestra.” Photographer Graciela Iturbide’s (b. 1942) story is told in comic-panel format, with striking black-and-white illustrations, high-quality reproductions of her own photographs, and spare first-person narration drawing upon her writing and interviews; interspersed are section introductions in a more conversational third-person, direct-address text. Together the sections trace, in not-quite-linear fashion, Iturbide’s travels from her home of Mexico City to the neighborhoods of East L.A. and Tijuana; the pueblos of Oaxaca and Juchitán; Jaipur in India; Frida Kahlo’s Casa Azul in Coyoacán; and beyond. We see the development of the many “obsessions” she is compelled to document and understand through her work: birds and the freedom of flight, death, life in “in-between” spaces, ritual, gender politics, the stories objects tell. Iturbide’s photography, frequently featuring strong women at the center of their indigenous communities, is intensely personal and culturally specific, yet universally resonant. Her philosophy is rooted in “intimacy and respect” (“I respect my subjects because I am subject, too. Always”) and in curiosity about liminal places where “the present and past,” “the indigenous and postcolonial,” “the real and the imagined” overlap. As author and illustrator document Iturbide documenting hersubjects, they embrace all of these elements of Iturbide’s ethos. A powerful homage to the five-decade evolution of an artist still working — and still evolving — today. Additional biographical information and a recommended reading list are appended. KATIE BIRCHER
From the September/October 2018 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.
Beginning by thanking the teachers in the audience, calling them “keepers of culture, protectors of everything we value,” Peña spoke about how he came to illustrate the graphic biography, Photographic: The Life of Graciela Iturbide by Isabel Quintero (Getty Publications). Peña, whose background is in community organizing, initially became familiar with the photographer while on a road trip through Mexico. When he and Quintero teamed up for the project, he made the decision to draw less from historical context, and more from Iturbide’s photographs themselves. However, he didn’t want his illustrations to be replicas of Iturbide’s images, but to instead express a similar “visual language.” As Iturbide often captured in her photographs, he hoped to distill something of the “in-between space,” or the moments that occur after laughter subsides, or artifice falls away. Throughout his process, he remained cognizant of the tricky line between “fact and imagination,” and how much leeway an author and artist have when creating a story of a person’s life.
Excerpt from A Gathering of Minds: A Hopeful and Incisive Bank Street Book Festival - By Matia Burnett | Publisher’s Weekly Oct 30, 2018
BA Art History/Visual Studies - University of Texas at Austin, Ampla Cum Laude - 2005
Areas of Focus: U.S./MX Border & Southwest Region, Indigenous Art, Chicana/o Art, Women/Gender Studies, Film Studies
2019 | My Papi Has a Moto - Kokila/Penguin Young Readers / Isabel Quintero, author; Namrata Tripatha; illustrated children’s book
2018 | Believer Magazine Cover Illustration (June/July 2018) / Kristen Radtke, editor
2018 | Immigrant Youth Are Changing the Face of Border Activism - VICE.com (March 2018) / Marina Garcia Vasquez, editor
2018 | Tales From La Vida: The Latinxgraphix Collection - Ohio State University Press / Frederick Aldama, editor - Anthology of Latinx Cartoonist
2017 | Photographic: The Life of Graciela Iturbide Getty Publishing - Illustrated graphic novel with author Isabel Quintero.
2017 | Jaya And Rasa: A Love Story - Cinco Puntos Press / Sonia Patel, author - Illustrated book cover + Production graphics.
2017 | Your Healing Is Killing Me - Plays Inverse Press / Vicki Grise, author - Illustrated play cover + Production graphics
2017 | The River That Became a Warzone - The Nib: Daily Comics Publication - Web comic
2016 | This Land Is Your Land - Chicano Batman, Johnnie Walker campaign - Illustrated album cover
2016 | YONKE - Self-Initiated Project - Comic zine about the border
2016 | Disasters of War - Self-Initiated Project - Comic zine about war crimes on the US/MX border
2015 | Visions From The Inside - Culture/Strike - Illustration
2015 | Rani Patel: In Full Effect - Cinco Puntos Press / Sonia Patel, author - Illustrated book cover + Production graphics
2014 | Gabi, A Girl In Pieces - Cinco Puntos Press/ Isabel Quintero, author - Illustrated book cover + interior Illustrations
2014 | Desert Yeti - Macbeth Footwear - Mural, shirt graphic + print
2018 | Tales From La Vida - Billy Ireland Cartoon Museum and Library. Columbus, OH.
2018 | Transnational Border Biennial - El Paso Museum of Art + Museo de Arte Ciudad Juárez.
2018 | Annual Print Exhibition - Self-Help Graphics. Los Angeles, CA.
2017 | Photographic - Pacific Standard Time LA/LA - Rose Gallery. Santa Monica, CA.
2017 | Siqueros-Pollock Concurso Binacional Fronterizo de Pintura y Dibujo. Centro Civico, Ciudad Juárez, Chih. MX
2017 | La Frontera - University of Texas El Paso Centennial Museum. El Paso, TX.
2017 | Future Now/Futuro Ahora - Loisaida Art Center. Harlem, NY.
2017 | 6th Annual Chicana/o Biennial - MACLA. San Jose, CA.
2017 | Amexican@ - Gravelmouth Gallery, San Antonio, TX.
2017 | Bravo/Grande - Roswell Museum and Art Center. Roswell, NM.
2016 | Reclaim - Rubin Center for Visual Arts. El Paso, TX.
2016 | Aztlán, the Permanent Collection and Beyond - Riverside Museum of Art, Riverside, CA.
2016 | Amexican@ - Mexic-Arte Museum of Art, Austin, TX.
2016 | Welcome! - CAL State - Fine Arts Gallery - Los Angeles, CA.
2016 | House On Mango St.: Artist Interpret Community. - HCC, ABQ., NM curated by NMMA Chicago, IL.
2016 | Visions From the Inside - Hudson Valley Center for Contemporary Art - Peekskill, NY.
2016 | LA/SA - Gravelmouth Gallery, San Antonio, TX.
2016 | Immigration & Citizenship - Idyllwild Arts Exhibition Center, Idyllwild, CA.
2016 | Desert Triangle Carpeta - El Paso Museum of Art, El Paso, TX.
2015 | La Muerte Niña - National Museum of Mexican Art. Chicago, IL.
2015 | Return of the Souls - Self Help Graphics Gallery. Los Angeles, CA.
2015 | Agua/Frontera - Juárez Contemporary Gallery. Juárez, Chih., Mexico.
2015 | Comics With A Conscience - Dominguez Fine Arts Gallery. Chicago, IL.
2015 | Print Residency - Chicago, IL. Master Printer: Gabe Hoare & Liz Born.
2015 | Yay Big Southwest Print Exhibit - Rusteberg Gallery. Brownsville, TX.
2015 | Chelas Y Cheetos - Cinco Puntos Gallery. El Paso, TX.
2014 | Septiembre Photos - La Fe Cultural Center, El Paso, TX.
2014 | Rito Y Recuerdo - National Museum of Mexican Art. Chicago, IL.
2014 | Una Cita Con La Vida - Self-Help Graphics. Los Angeles, CA.
2013 | Exposicion - Maintain Creative Coalition, El Paso, TX.
2013 | Yay Big Southwest - Tucson, AZ & El Paso, TX.
2012 | Maintain Mobile - Chalk The Block. El Paso, TX.
2012 | Chucanos - Kalavera Gallery, El Paso, TX.
2011 | Free Radicals - Chalk the Block. El Paso, TX.
2011 | Border to Border - Gallery A.K.A., San Diego, CA.
2011 | Exquisite Dorks - DFault Gallery, El Paso, TX.
2009 | Redefining Walls - Union Gallery, Univ. of Texas El Paso.
2009 | Biennial Ciudad Juárez / El Paso - El Paso Museum of Art & Museo del Arte Juárez
2009 | Viewfinder - Houston Center of Photography, Houston, TX.
2007 | High Contrast - Shine Gallery. El Paso, TX.
AWARDS + RESIDENCIES
2018 | NALAC Artist Grant Recipient
2018 | Boston Globe - Horn Book Award for Nonfiction
2018 | International Latino Book Awards - Best Art Books Honorable Mention
2017 | Working Classroom Resident - Albuquerque, NM.
2017 | Self Help Graphics Print Residency - Los Angeles, CA.
2017 | Siqueros-Pollock Concurso Binacional Fronterizo de Pintura y Dibujo - Ciudad Juárez, Chih./El Paso, TX.
2016 | Stan Lee and Gerald Rubin Center for the Visual Arts Excellence Endowment - El Paso, TX.
2017 | Santa Fe Artist Residency - Santa Fe Art Institute. Santa Fe, NM.
2016 | Artist Incubator Grant - NEA Art Works, The City of El Paso MCAD. & Texas Commission on the Arts
2015 | Studio Residency - Firestation No. 4, San Antonio, TX.
2014 | Artist Incubator Grant - City of El Paso Museum and Cultural Affairs Dept. & Texas Commission on the Arts. El Paso, TX.
2014 | Special Projects Print Residency - Self Help Graphics, Los Angeles, CA. Master Printers José Alpuche, Self-Help Graphics.
2014 | Print Residency - Modern Multiples, Los Angeles, CA. Master Printers Richard Duardo & Ivan Alpuche.
2013 | Studio Internship - Artist Vincent Valdez, Strangest Fruit Series. San Antonio, TX.
COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT + PRESENTATIONS + WORKSHOPS
2018 | Mural Workshop - SAY Sí - San Antonio, TX.
2018 | Printmaking Workshop - Latino Cultural Center - Dallas, TX.
2016 | Artist Talk & Studio Visits - University of Texas at El Paso. El Paso, TX.
2016 | Print Workshop & Presentation - University of Texas at Brownsville. Brownsville, TX.
2016 | Desert Environment on the Border Presentation - Centennial Museum at University of Texas at El Paso. El Paso, TX.
2015 | Freelance Futures: Professional Practices Workshop - CUADRO Community Space / Stan Lee and Gerald Rubin Center for the Arts. University of Texas at El Paso.
2015 | Waterbound Presentation - Bowie High School. El Paso, TX.
2015 | Artist In Business: Public Art Training - City of El Paso MCAD & Texas Commission on the Arts El Paso, TX.
2015 | Letters from the Inside - Participating artist in a national graphics campaign connecting visual artist with migrants in detention centers. Culture/Strike, San Francisco, CA.
2014 | Centennial Celebration of the Arts Presentation - Presentation of a participatory project about immigration and water. Stan Lee and Gerald Rubin Center for the Visual Arts. El Paso, TX.
2014 | Visual Narratives: Collaborative Storytelling - Presentation at the Inaugural Wise Latina Conference, El Paso, Tx.
2009 | Young Curators: Summer Youth Art Program - Rubin Center, UTEP. El Paso, TX.
2005 | Abriendo Brecha / Haciendo Camino: Activist Scholarship on Race, Identity, and Mestizaje - Scholarly paper presentation Poster Theory: Cultural Identity & Reciprocity in Chicana/o Prinkmaking. Univ. of Texas at Austin.
2005 | Emerging Scholarship in Women & Gender Studies Conference - Scholarly paper presentation EARTHBODY: The Work of Ana Mendieta Univ. of Texas at Austin.
2002 - 2005 | Save Our Youth /Resistencia Bookstore - Event coordinator and host for Red Salmon Arts, Austin, TX.
2018 | Collection of Cheech Marin. Los Angeles, CA.
2017 | Hispanic Cultural Center. Albuquerque, NM.
2016 | National Museum of Mexican Art. Chicago, IL.
2016 | El Paso Museum of Art, El Paso, TX.
2016 | Collection of Juan Sandoval. El Paso, TX.
2015 | Samuel E. Kelly Ethnic Cultural Center; University of Washington. Seattle, WA.
2014 | Collection of Gilbert & Dolores Cárdenas. Southbend, MI.
2014 | Collection of Dr. Harriet & Ricardo Romo. San Antonio, TX.
2013 | Collection of Karl Whitaker. Tucson, AZ.
About fourteen years ago while traveling on a road trip through Northern Mexico, Zeke Peña brought only one book with him: a small, pocket-sized book of photographs by Graciela Iturbide. A few years ago, the works of Graciela Iturbide entered his life again when he was presented with the opportunity to illustrate Photographic: The Life of Graciela Iturbide, published by Getty Publications. It was not until he was preparing the proposal for the book that he made the connection between the subject of his most recent project and the photographs that accompanied him throughout the landscape of Northern Mexico. CLICK HERE TO READ THE FULL INTERVIEW