Welcoming Irina Contreras to the Board

Every year, two Collective Residents are elected by the Collective to serve on the NAVEL Board of Directors for a period of one year. Their primary responsibility is to engage deeply in community listening and represent the interests and priorities of the community in Board decision-making.

After receiving strong applications from the Collective Residents at the end of last year, we’ve opened an additional seat on the NAVEL Board of Directors to give room to now 3 community-elected representatives.

As a result, we are pleased to welcome Irina Contreras, who has worked for over 15 years at the intersections of community organizing, arts and education in both community-based and institutional settings.

Contreras is the founder of The Miracle Bookmobile, and has pursued an art practice that fully integrates writing and a dedication to social and restorative justice practices. In 2006, Irina co-founded Night Kitchen as a woc-owned and operated health and wellness catering project. Night Kitchen expanded to center sliding scale consulting services for queer and trans BIPOC/people of color and communities. Irina is a current participant in the NAVEL Collective Residency where they are researching and writing about improvements for time-banking models alongside documenting abolitionist funding strategies. Irina loves the smell of fresh xerox zines, 7-inch vinyl and dream diaries. They hold an MFA/MA from CCA in Social Practice and Visual and Critical Studies. Irina spends most of their time with a magnificent 3 year old named Ixi.

“Joining the Board of Directors at this moment is exciting and challenging! It comes with the expectation of trying to both sustain NAVEL while further growing access and collective growth that has already begun and it is ready for more expansion. Most of my experience is within the intersections of political and/or art based collectives, independent spaces and the repurposing of revenue. Before shelter in place began, I felt that we were already at a critical collective moment. So many of the creative political and cultural spaces I grew up with in LA were (long) gone, losing their spaces or looking for new semi-permanent brick and mortar spaces. Shelter in place and uprising has put these issues in stark focus. How can we ensure that people have shelter, food and all the necessary items needed to thrive while having access to cultural production? How can artists/cultural producers pivot to reassess what is most relevant and important? A few years ago, I worked to secure funds from 501©3’s who were exiting an active presence in community in hopes of starting a more regular funding source for QTIBIPOC artists, particularly those who had not attended college and/or were formerly incarcerated, underdocumented etc. Already, I imagine the importance of revisiting strategies of this nature. Part of the call of this moment is to address who is not at the table, so to speak and why. It sometimes (often) requires us to take a step back, to listen and reflect.“

Get in touch with Irina at irina@navel.la