Renowned Oakland-based artist and activist Favianna Rodriguez recently donated her personal papers to the Davidson Library California Ethnic and Multi-Cultural Archives (CEMA), a department that advances scholarship in ethnic studies through varied collections of research materials.

Since the 1990’s, Rodriguez has been producing work that focuses on social issues such as economic inequality and racism through bold, high-contrast colored posters and digital graphics media, including silk screens and monotypes. The artist is primarily identified as a printmaker, and her work — which oftentimes highlights ethnic diversity and promotes social justice — has been featured in prestigious venues in New York, San Francisco, Chicago, Tokyo and Rome, amongst other major cities.

According to CEMA Director Sal Guerena, CEMA houses collections that represent cultural, artistic, ethnic and racial diversity, and the library department has already secured 148 such collections and made them available to the community as a means of increasing cultural awareness.

“The California Ethnic and Multicultural Archives preserves and makes accessible the archives and manuscripts of California’s underrepresented peoples of color. These unique collections … document lives and activities of African Americans, Asian/Pacific Americans, Chicanos/ Latinos and Native Americans in California,” Guerena said. “Organizations and individuals have committed to establishing their personal papers and archival materials for preservation and to be made accessible for research.”

Rodriguez’s donated materials enhance the university’s research in racial diversity and ensure students have access important information on minorities, Guerena said.

“Her donation enables and enhances research efforts to study the ethnic and racial diversity of the state and nation and attendant demographic and social issues,” Guerena said. “It insures, by preserving the materials, that future generations of students and in our community have access to important historical documents of under-represented communities of color.”

The artist’s personal papers focus on issues like immigrant rights to anti-war movements, which Guerena said are particularly relevant to the campus community.

“Favianna has so much to offer and gave us so much to choose from — including artwork on the environment, on racial violence, women’s reproductive rights and the anti-war movement,” Guerena said. “All these are topics that are of concern to students.”

Additionally, Guerena said he is already noticing students’ interest in Rodriguez’s work as well as the positive impact it has brought to campus.

“When we were hanging the show, I noticed right away how the artist was already connecting with our students through her art,” Guerena said. “I noticed two to three students clicking away with their iPhones, taking pictures of the posters. I asked a few what they thought. Here’s what I heard: ‘Awesome,’ ‘Inspiring,’ ‘We need to see this.’ Personally, I can’t think of a more powerful impact than that.”

According to David Seubert, head of the Davidson Library’s Special Collections Department, Rodriguez’s work holds great versatility in acting as a potential learning material for both personal research and class presentations. Such a positive and constructive impact reflects the library departments’ initial intentions in acquiring items for collections, Seubert said.

“The mission of Special Collections is to support scholarship and teachings by collecting primary source materials,” Seubert said. “CEMA, in particular, is important because it focuses on California ethnic groups and documenting the lives of minorities.”