I am the last child of eight, with my mother coming from one side of the tracks while my father came from the other. The former combined her studies as a teacher and artist with sheer ingenuity to make our lives colorfully creative while the latter, a key figure in the 1970’s Chicano Revolution in San José California, worked as an organizer helping unite diverse minority groups to have stronger voices in their communities. With these abilities as part of my personal fabric, I became a teacher in 1990, joining the ranks to help empower people of all ages through English and Spanish. In 2008, I transferred my skills to the arts community, traveling perpetually, photographing, documenting artists and organizations involved in their communities, and developing an approach I call contextualizations.
As an artist, I focus my camera on both impossibly large subjects as well as the nuances that define the dynamics and character of the fleeting yet eternal present moment. Looking at a scene both as a whole and as a unique union of colors, shapes, textures and circumstances, I use my medium as Dorothea Lange aptly described, “an instrument that teaches people how to see without a camera.”
At one point, I used the video setting to bring movement to my stills. Sometimes likened to Cinéma vérité and also having qualities that are reminiscent of Jonas Mekas’s works, the scenes I focus on unfold in real time. As finished pieces, they are set to music; dialogue is often non-existent. Most of my time is spent with the situation I’m recording, keeping post-production work to a minimum. I leave my work for audiences to experience based on their individual and cultural fabrics, causing them to lean in.

Contextualizations had been in my thoughts for quite a while before I was invited to the Calumet Artist Residency in Gary, IN, 2017. It was here where I dove into what has now become my long term artistic practice. This site-specific approach is based on refreshing our perspective of what is otherwise neglected by familiarity. I document everyday life-in-motion moments, and project them against familiar objects. I then video record those projections, creating the material for my final pieces. Though I am using digital equipment, my process of real-time layering and minimal post-production gives the results an analog feel. The works cause audiences to lose themselves within and outside of their familiar spaces, allowing them to see their ‘known’ anew and inspire all to see and hear a place though their own filters of culture, mood and preconceptions.


Since 2008, ACVilla (Chicana, b. 1968) has focused her time as a peripatetic traveler, tour manager, photographer, videographer and visual artist. Her pieces has been shown throughout the US, Canada and Europe in DIY spaces, museums, galleries, schools and universities, some being: Pioneer Works (Brooklyn NY); Crocker Art Museum (Sacramento, CA); Crystal Springs Museum of American Art (Bentonville, AR); Hallwalls Contemporary Art Center (Buffalo, NY); Guild Cinema (Albuquerque, NM); Northwest Film Forum (Seattle, WA); Toledo Museum Of Art (Toledo, OH); and Krannert Art Museum (Univ of Il. Urbana). She was commissioned by the internationally-renown Rova Saxophone Quartet to create No Distractions, a video score which they performed on their 40th anniversary. Dire Warning was created for Estamos Trio (cross-border collaboration) and debuted during the SITE Santa Fe (NM) 2018 Biennial. With her partner and musician Thollem, she continues to tour various iterations of Obstacle Illusion as well as her abstract work specifically created for the artist. 

ACVilla’s approach of contextualizations and previous pieces reflect her upbringing in a bicultural family in the multi-ethnic Bay Area in the 70s and 80s, particularly with Mexican-American immigrants and their inner-city communities.  Her visuals emphasize the reality of change, travel, and the actions that create our daily lives, all the while honoring ‘home’ – a safe place where everyone deserves to exist.

ACVilla’s setup ©Thollem 2023
ACVilla documenting AIDS mural in Los Angeles ©Thollem 2019
ACVilla, camera on the move ©Thollem 2020
Olympia, WA, documenting for Who Are US ©Thollem 2016
ACVilla with drone documenting murals with a message ©Thollem 2019