Nikki Valencia, also known as “Soulbunni,” portrays her activism through art and video essays with a common theme: Afro-Mexican beauty.
Los Bagels recently showcased Valencia’s art from February 4 to March 29. This was not the artist’s first showing but it was her largest in terms of art pieces. Her art reflects being unconventional and choosing to be a nonconformist.
“It expresses a pride in myself and pride in my people,” said Valencia.
Valencia’s art first started as anime drawing but once she turned 20, her art style shifted towards a blend of anime and Afro-Mexican surrealism. Her inspiration for her art style is SZA’s album “Ctrl” that came out in 2017.
“My art is pushing against the narrative that we, women of color, don’t belong in bright colors or certain color palettes. For the longest, I remember people saying that’s more for white people.”
She hopes to show that the terms “elegance,” “grace,” “softness” and “gentle” do describe women of color.
Valencia was raised in Garden Grove, California throughout her childhood. As the only Black person in her classes, she described her upbringing as “constant racism and constant microaggressions” from White and Brown people. She feels the reason why there weren’t any other Black people in school was due to economic barriers, as Garden Grove is known to be one of the more expensive counties in Southern California.
Valencia moved to Humboldt county in February 2020 after being captivated by the nature and art scene.
She started out getting involved with local community organizations like Black Humboldt, which is a local organization that helps Black-owned businesses and artists, and creates a safe space with awareness of local issues.
Valencia creates video essays on YouTube that address important issues that QBIPOC people face, as well as calling out non-BIPOC to get educated. Her advice is “not waiting for someone to save you; stick up, stand up for yourself, be the first before you wait.” For non-BIPOC people she says, “Educate yourself on issues. YouTube is a great resource. They cover so many topics.”