ACVilla (b. 1968, Chicana) is a visual artist of moving stills. She focuses her camera on the subtleties of interpersonal dynamics and the power that context plays in constantly redefining what people believe they already know. ACVilla highlights those aspects of Life with an analog sensibility using digital equipment that fit into her nomadic lifestyle. She is known for her ongoing series of murals-with-a-message and contextualizations, a practice of projecting the outside world in. 

ACVilla has been commissioned by the cross-border group Estamos Ensemble, the Rova Saxophone Quartet, and the Thollem/Riley/Cline Trio, among others. Her works have been presented in venues across two continents in myriad contexts, including DIYs, museums, schools, universities, film societies, and theaters. With her long-time partner and musician, Thollem, she collaborates on large projects from documentaries to touring multimedia experiences. 


My practice is a developing distillation of my past and present lives. 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 both as completed pieces and in live performances. Most of my time is spent with the situation I’m recording, keeping post-production to a minimum. I leave my work for audiences to experience based on their individual and cultural fabrics.

Late 2023 and early 2024 finds me gathering new footage to mix live during Thollem’s solo performances for our 2024 US/EU tour, Worlds In A Life. Hope to see you out there!


I am pleased to have received this award to get closer to the realization of
Murals Of Nani Chacon.
ACVilla & the Hackney Peace mural 1985/2013, London©Thollem 2022
ACVilla, camera on the move ©Thollem 2020
Olympia, WA, documenting for Who Are US ©Thollem 2016
Love Is For Everyone, 1991/2015, L.A. ©Thollem 2019
ACVilla at Guild Cinema Albuquerque NM ©Thollem 2023
ACVilla documenting Nani Chacon’s mural “Through The River It Flows” in Española, NM. ©Thollem 2019