We’re delighted to announce the three new committee members for the UAL Alumni of Colour Association (AoCA):
- Cristina Reynoso López
- Chiara Vicini
- Samar F. Zia
They join the AoCA as plans are taking shape for several exciting events and opportunities throughout 2022.
The AoCA is a supportive community that works to increase the visibility of people of colour in the creative industries - and celebrates their work and achievements.
Cristina Reynoso López
I always felt part of a community where we were all equals. I always felt welcome and appreciated since the moment I was offered a grant to study MA Publishing at LCC, so my experience there was one that I’ll always cherish and remember dearly.
After graduating from LCC, I went back to Mexico, where I started a children’s books publishing project, Tera Ediciones, with an old friend.
Last year, before I came back to the UK, the Mexican government granted us funds to complete our project. And so, after sorting this and several other obstacles, Mariquita Dedos en la Nariz (Mariquita Nose Fingers) and Los Superpoderes de Sofía (Sofía’s Superpowers) are due to be published this year.
Besides this, two other events helped shape my professional fate: my volunteering at an animal shelter and the rise of the feminist movement in Mexico. That is how I became involved in activism (mainly for animal rights, antiracism, and feminism - which I try to incorporate into the stories I want to publish). I've collaborated with various NGOs as a press officer and translator. I’m currently working as a copy editor for Jellysmack, a tech start-up that specialises in digital content.
I want to use my skills and what I learned in my master's programme to help put the spotlight on successful UAL alumni of colour. I’ll always be grateful to the UAL community, so I see this as an opportunity to give back and contribute to strengthening it.
I started my MA in Costume Design in 2015 and graduated in 2017 with Distinction. At the beginning of the course, I was a young student dreaming of studying at UAL to widen my knowledge of costume design. I’m so grateful for the amazing teachers, and the projects I worked on during the course. My overall experience at UAL was so fulfilling and gave me a deep knowledge of the sector I’m currently working in.
Since graduating in 2017, my work has varied from Stylist to Costume Maker and Designer for small and big theatre productions and in fashion events including the London Fashion Week.
I’m currently working freelance in the TV and Film industry in the Costume Department. Alongside my costume credits, I’m also an artist, and I recently exhibited my work in August 2021 at the Brick Lane Gallery in London.
As an artist and as an individual, I’ve always wanted to make a difference through my work and my persona. I’m confident that this programme can bring about a change and I’m delighted to be a part of it.
I’ve always been an advocate of equality and hopefully, I’ll be able to do my small part in helping to elevate and expose the work of people of colour. I often attend diverse cultural events to raise awareness and educate myself. However, it’s clear to see within society that most people are in love with the cultures of people of colour rather than the people themselves. I hope to raise awareness of this by taking part in the AoCA.
Samar F. Zia
MA Fine Art, Central Saint Martins (CSM), 2013
One of the many good things about being at UAL was that everyone was unique and different in their own way, and they were accepted for that. There was never a moment, as a person of colour, when I thought that I didn’t belong.
That being said, coming from a different culture I did have to adjust a bit, but I was also able to share things particular to my ethnicity with folks who were keen to learn and grow. Interestingly, more than half my class was international, and we were all able to support and help each other.
I have been quite busy since finishing my Master’s program at UAL. As soon I graduated, I independently curated my first fine art exhibition in London at Hanmi Gallery. It was an exciting opportunity to curate works by artists from the UK and abroad.
Besides curating, I’ve developed art programs for a local community centre as well as participated in micro-residencies, while continuing my art practice and exhibiting both in the UK and Pakistan, my home county. This year was the first time I’ve been represented in UK Art Fairs including the Affordable Art Fair.
UAL is a very dynamic institution, with room to encompass a whole lot of cultural activity. Continuing my visual art practice as well as curating independently and writing exhibition reviews, I’ve picked up skills that I can use to contribute to the AoCA, be it in the form of curating an exhibition focusing on the development and practices of alumni of colour, or simply being a mentor to fresh graduates.
There is no doubt that I learned a lot while studying at UAL, but I believe that learning does not stop upon graduating, and I look forward to developing more personal and professional skills by devoting my time to the AoCA.