Lit Hop 22 Artist Bios

Hosted by Karen Minzer

When and Where: 2-4 pm |Saturday, July 16 | Lucky Dog Books (East Dallas

Sophia Dembling is author of The Introvert’s Way: Living a Quiet Life in a Noisy World and Introverts in Love: The Quiet Way to Happily Ever After. Sophia also is the author of 100 Places in the USA Every Woman Must GoThe Yankee Chick’s Survival Guide to Texas and co-author ofThe Making of Dr. Phil: The Straight-Talking True Story of Everyone’s Favorite Therapist and I Can Still Laugh: Stories of Inspiration and Hope from Individuals Living with Alzheimer’s.Her essays and articles have appeared in newspapers and magazines nationwide, including regularly penned articles in Psychology Today.She is a native of New York City who transplanted to Dallas to work as a staff writer for the Dallas Morning News. She is widely traveled and was married for thirty years to Dallas musician Tom Battles, who passed away in 2020. She is a political activist and focuses much energy on voter registration and women’s rights, placing herself in active protests and support of political candidates that advocate on behalf of equal rights.

Deborah Scally is an assistant professor of humanities at the University of Texas at Dallas. She writes mostly about anime and manga. This book explores anime auteur Hayao Miyazaki’s films through the lens of the monomyth of the Heroic Quest Cycle. According to Joseph Campbell and other mythology researchers, the Quest is for boys and men, with women acting as either the Hero’s mother or the Prize at the end of the journey. Miyazaki nearly exclusively portrays girls and young women as heroes, arguing that we must reassess Campbell’s archetype. The text begins with a brief history of animation and anime, followed by Miyazaki’s background and rise to prominence. The following chapters look at each of Miyazaki’s films from the perspective of the Heroic Quest Cycle, with the last section outlining where Miyazaki and other animators can lead the archetype of the Hero in the future.


When and Where: 7-9 pm | Saturday July 30 | Top Ten Records (Oak Cliff)

Victoria Lopez is an author and the 2022 City of McAllen Poet Laureate. In 2015, she began to introduce herself as a writer and built her confidence by engaging with the community. Her first novel, Fire in May, was published in 2016, the same year she was selected as a tenant of the McAllen Creative Incubator. Victoria writes “Poetry on Demand,” a performative demonstration of spontaneous writing. Using her typewriter, you may give her a word, topic, phrase, question, feeling, or thought and she’ll write you a poem to either keep or share with someone you love! “The most important thing about being a writer is identifying who you are and what you represent, what is your mission? What are you putting into the world? Spend time with yourself and be gentle, the words will come, and when they do, let them be authentic.” You can join Victoria for “Unfolded: Poetry Project” workshops at the McAllen Creative Incubator. 

Annie Tran is Assistant Editor of Reunion Literary Magazine at University of Texas at Dallas. She is a second-year M.A. Literature student with a B.A. in Literary Studies, and a minor in Creative Writing from UTD. She is a cisgender asexual writer, train enthusiast, lover of Greek mythology, and she experiments with the concept of“word butter” in her writing. Her work appears in Oddball MagazineWingless DreamerDrunk Monkeys, and more.

Shahrzad Hamzeh is a doctoral student at The University of Texas at Dallas majoring in Visual and Performance studies with a focus on dance. She hopes to influence the inclusion of Persian dance and other Iranian performances to the dance curriculum. She is an Iranian Researcher, Dancer, Choreographer, Model, Actress, Producer, Director, Dramaturge, Poet, Writer, Photographer, and Artist. Hamzeh’s current research interests are dance and religion, dance and sexuality, dances of Silk Road, ritualistic dance, and healing by dance. She left her home country to pursue her passion for dance due to the illegality of dance in Iran. She first started dancing when she was five years old with her sister’s guidance and continued to self-train through instructional CDs and movies, classes on aerobics and rhythmic movements at the local gyms and trained to be a Zumba instructor by the time she was 20 years old. Her love of dance lead her to Arezou Zare, who taught her the intricacies of Bollywood and some amateur Russian dancing. While she was getting her BA in Urdu Language & Literature at the University of Tehran she studied Kurdish dancing with Vria Boojar and Asu Naderi. This led to her appearance in Aziz-E Shahngal directed by Qodbeddin Sadeghi. She simultaneously trained in Classical and Modern Persian dances, Azeri, Turkish, Spanish Belly Dancing, and Sevianna with Mina Moradi for four years. She felt the need to know more about the history of what she was being taught. This decision led to her graduation with a MA in Theatre Studies from Illinois State University. While a student at Illinois State University she presented papers on dance and performance in Iran, and taught classes on Persian dances, Belly dancing, Kurdish, and Azeri, lectures and movement. 

Priscilla Celina “Lina” Suarez is a Mexican American author who was the 2015-17 McAllen Poet Laureate. She is co-founder of the Gloria Anzaldúa Legacy Project (GAL) which was formed to honor the legacy of Anzaldúa and share her work with a broader public. During her childhood, she lived surrounded by the farmlands of the then small colonia of Las Milpas, TX, where she first heard many of the cuentos she shares in Cuentos Wela Told Me. Her poetry collection, La La Landia: A Journey Through my Frontera CD Shuffle, was released in April 2022 from FlowerSong Press.

Linda Feliciana Romero is from Harlingen, Texas and has been published in Boundless, the anthology for the Rio Grande Valley International Poetry Festival, Along the River 2: More Voices from the Rio Grande (VAO Publishing), Twenty: In Memoriam (El Zarape Press), and La Bloga. She was nominated for a Pushcart Prize in 2018 for her poem, “In the Passenger Seat” by El Zarape Press which appeared in Boundless 2017. She is a Certified Academic Language Therapist and has a private practice providing dyslexia therapy. Photo by: Anaia Irish Funtanilla.

Opalina Salas is a Dallas-based poet queen of the Oak Cliff poetry scene, where she hosts the Poets on X+ Open Mic at MFA Gallery and popular host for many WordSpace events. She has performed in venues and lit fests all over the U.S. and regularly contributes to the Mad Swirl Open Mic. She and her poet husband, Carlos Salas also founded an electronica/spoken word duo, Your Loving Son. Salas is included in the Beatest State in the Union, and multiple lit zines. Her book Black Sparrow Dress. The title simultaneously puns and tributes one of the great historic poetry presses and publishers of many of her favorite books. In her own words, her poetry collection is “about recalling the past and letting go. It’s about the town I call home and the poets I call friends. It’s about love and remorse, outrage and abandonment, but also hope. It’s about a woman’s journey through changes; aging, addictions, laments, misgivings, to eventual empowerment.”

Hosted by Karen Minzer

When and Where: 7-9 pm | Wednesday August 10 | Bathhouse Cultural Center (East Dallas)

Celia Alvarez Munoz was born in El Paso, Texas in 1937, Álvarez Muñoz is a conceptual multimedia artist currently living and working in Arlington, Texas. She is recognized internationally for her diverse and multifaceted body of work including artist books, photography, painting, written text, installation and public art. Álvarez Muñoz states that the mission driving her artistic practice has always been one of an “Artivist”: an artist and activist. This ideology and philosophy underscores much of her career and work. As a child, her father was deployed to Alaska and Germany, leaving Álvarez Muñoz in the care of her mother, aunt and maternal grandmother in El Paso. Her childhood experiences and youth living in the borderlands inspired much of her later creative practice, referencing dichotomous cultures, values and language complexities found along the U.S.-Mexico border, along with the physical, psychological and socio-political issues of life along the border zone. In college she studied art of all levels, receiving her BA in Art from Texas Western University (now University of Texas, El Paso), and started a career in teaching art to children upon graduation. She also worked in advertising as a fashion illustrator prior to graduating from college. Álvarez Muñoz, her husband, and their two small children relocated throughout the U.S. several times before finally moving to Arlington. Álvarez Muñoz enrolled in graduate school at North Texas State University (now University of North Texas, Denton) in 1977, where she studied with known Texas artists Vernon Fisher and Al Souza. During her studies, she began work on her well-known Enlightenment series, a multimedia, conceptual visual book and language project including a total of ten works she created over a span of about five years. Enlightenment visually portrays the confusing and often erroneous misunderstandings caused by language barriers, cognitive development, and language acquisition. Throughout the series, the artist plays with text, puns, and double meanings she experienced growing up along the Mexican border. The dominant themes of her bilingual and bicultural heritage, as well as an emphasis on education and educational principles (referencing her work as a teacher throughout much of her career), are seen throughout the Enlightenment project, as well as her oeuvre, with later photographs and works addressing these still current and poignant experiences. Álvarez Muñoz recalls numerous moments of both a personal and historical importance as key landmarks in her practice and development as an artist. The following are key historical and personal moments that have impacted and continue to influence my career: 1)A dramatic demographic shift in El Paso with the settlement of The Chamizal Treaty. 2) Installations/collaborations with retirement communities remembering Snugg Harbor in New York’s Staten Island, and Cerveceria Carta Blanca in Monterrey, Mexico. 3) An airport in Phoenix, Arizona’s connection to WW II. 4) Protest to unfair women’s labor practice in the manufacturing industry in the USA and Manchester, England. 5) Roswell, New Mexico’s attitude towards its “aliens.” 6) A coming-out GBL Texas community’s move to San Francisco, California.  7) San Antonio’s convention center expansion hinge honoring regional music.  8) San Antonio River links a park to the history and function of its river.  9)San Antonio’s main plaza reveals a multitude of its stories.  10) A protest installation with SMU/West Dallas due to the Calatrava Bridge and the gentrification in the once segregated Hispanic demographic. 11) A protest to the feminicides in Mexico’s Cuidad Juárez NAFTA maquiladoras.  12) An Austin, Texas library’s acknowledgement to its power and water treatment plants. 13) Participation in “Radical Women: Latin American Art, 1960-1985” at The Hammer Museum, Los Angeles, California (2017), followed by travel to The Brooklyn Museum, Brooklyn, New York, and Pinacoteca de São Paulo, São Paulo, Brazil (2018).  My mission in art making has always been one of an Artivist – I am an artist and an activist.”These experiences and accomplishments as an Artivist have left an indelible impact on Álvarez Muñoz’s laudable and prolific career, who is recognized by numerous awards and achievements. In 1995, she received the Honors Award for Outstanding Achievement in the Visual Arts from the Women’s Caucus for Art. Prior to this award, Álvarez Muñoz received two National Endowment for the Arts grants for both Photography and New Genres (1988 and 1991); she is also the recipient of the CAA Committee on Women in the Arts Recognition Award, and the Outstanding Centennial Alumnus award by the University of North Texas College of Arts and Sciences. In 2009, Roberto Tejada (the Hugh Roy and Lillie Cranz Cullen Distinguished Professor at the University of Houston) published a book on Álvarez Muñoz and her work (Celia Álvarez Muñoz, (UCLA Chicano Studies Research Center Press; University of Minnesota Press.) Álvarez Muñoz’s work has been featured in numerous national and international solo and group exhibitions of note, including: University of Texas at El Paso; Whitney Biennial; Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego; Dallas Museum of Fine Art; Capp Street Project; University of Texas at Arlington; Station Museum of Contemporary Art; and the Radical Women: Latin American Art, 1960-85, at the Hammer Museum and Brooklyn Museum, Brooklyn, New York, followed by the Pinacoteca de São Paulo, São Paulo, Brazil, 2018), among others. She is represented in numerous public and private collections throughout the states, including the Art Institute of Chicago; Getty Research Institute; Museum of Contemporary Art; and the Houston Museum of Fine Arts; and Texas Commission on the Arts 2021 Artist of the Year.

Nancy Rebal  received her BA from American University in Washington DC, studied design at the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, CA and earned a MA and MFA from the University of Dallas. She was granted a residency at Rocky Mountain Women’s Institute and two from Vermont Studio Center. She is a co-creator of the interactive public art- work STATIONS: creating the Collective Voice of Forgiveness which has traveled through the US, Ireland and Africa. NancyRebal’s artist-career spans over forty-five years in a wide variety of ap- plications. She spent years managing a design studio in Los Angeles after a stint as a graphic de- signer for The Hollywood Reporter. When she moved to Denver, she returned to painting and was represented by Kyle Belding Gallery and taught art at the University of Colorado. After moving to Texas she was represented by Edith Baker Gallery then Craighead Green Gallery. She resigned from galleryrepresentation in 2007. She taught art at the University of Dallas. Since 1995 she has painted major crucifixes, stations of the cross and shrines for Catholic churches, also designing numerous stained-glass programs for Foster-Stained Glass of Bryan, Texas. Rebal is a founding artist of Corsicana Artist & Writer Residency. Painting and sculpture are now herprimary concerns. She works in a 5000 sq.ft. studio, originally the 1924 L T Davis grocery store, across the street from the100W building of the Corsicana Residency. Recently, she became business partners with Jean Searcy in co-foundingArtTown Corsicana, LLC, restoring historic buildings in Corsicana to be used as studio spaces for visiting artists and writers. She lives in both Corsicana and Dallas with her husband David Searcy.


When and Where: 7-9 pm | Saturday August 27 | Mighty Fine Arts (Oak Cliff)

Vicki Meek is recognized as an artist, curator, writer, organizer and arts advocate, Meek’s career embodies the ethos of the Texas Artist of the Year award she received from Art League Houston in 2021. Meek’s multimedia, interdisciplinary practice focuses on cultural memory, identity, and social issues in relation to the African diaspora, underscored by an underlying hope and emphasis on collective healing. This sense of hopefulness is highlighted throughout much of Meek’s practice, which prioritizes and supports forgotten, left behind histories and identities. Meek’s singular aesthetic and artistic practice are related to the late Elizabeth Catlett (Meek’s mentor) and African cosmology and spiritual practices. “As an artist obtaining a Master of Fine Arts at the height of the Black Power Movement, it is not surprising that my work embraces a political outlook, especially given that my artistic idols are Elizabeth Catlett, Jacob Lawrence and Romare Bearden. The aesthetic I developed both the notion of utilizing text and symbolism derived from West Africa and other parts of the African diaspora, while striving to educate the viewer on lost history and social issues.  Born and raised in Philadelphia, Meek is a nationally recognized artist who has exhibited widely and represented by Talley Dunn Gallery, Dallas, Texas. Her work can be found in the permanent collections of the African American Museum of Dallas; The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; Fort Wayne Museum of Art; Paul Quinn College; Serie Project; and Norwalk Community College. Meek was selected as one of ten national artists to celebrate the 10th Anniversary of the Nasher Sculpture Center with the commissioning of a site-specific installation that was part of Nasher XChange (October 2013 through February 2014). Meek’s retrospective, Vicki Meek: 3 Decades of Social Commentary, opened in November 2019 at the Houston Museum of African American Culture. In January 2020, she premiered an art video at Denton Black Film Festival, signaling a new period of creating work using video as the primary medium. Meek is the recipient of numerous grants and honors including the National Endowment for the Arts NFRIG Grant; the Dallas Observer MasterMind Award; the Dallas Museum of Art Otis and Velma Davis Dozier Travel Grant; Texas Black Filmmakers Mission Award; Women of Visionary Influence Mentor Award; and the Dallas Women’s Foundation Maura Award. She received the African American Museum of Dallas A. Maceo Smith Award for Cultural Achievement. In 2016, Meek retired as the Manager of the South Dallas Cultural Center. She has served on the board of the National Performance Network/Visual Artists Network, a Fellow in the Intercultural Leadership Institute, Voting Member of Alternate Roots, and as Chief Operating Officer of USEKRA: Center for Creative Investigation, a retreat for creatives in Costa Rica founded by internationally acclaimed performance artist Elia Arce. She is also Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson’s at-large appointment to the Arts and Culture Commission and the Public Art Committee. Meek is also writes cultural criticism for Dallas Weekly with her blog Art & Racenotes. (WordSpace also claims Vicki Meek as a valued Advisor collaborator on numerous programming partnerships. Thank you!)

Sara Cardona was born in Mexico City and grew up in Texas. Her art has been exhibited all over the United States and Mexico. She holds an MFA in Fine Arts from Temple University and a B.A. from the University of Texas at Austin in the honors program, Plan II, where she specialized in the Latin American Studies Program. Sara was formerly a cultural program coordinator for the Latino Arts Initiative for the Office of Arts and Culture for the City of Dallas, a Humanities instructor at Richland Community College where she initiated the Mexican-American/Latin American Studies program and was chair, and as an independent researcher in the area of Latin American art for leading universities and museums such as UT Dallas, The Amon Carter Museum, and The Meadows Museum. A former board member of Teatro Dallas, she stepped into the position of executive director in 2018. Cardona’s elegant visual art has been widely exhibited and acclaimed. “Using the analog process of cut-and-paste collage, Sara Cardona’s works on paper are a nod to the tradition of assemblage and the pre-digital editing process of film. The forms created are based on the detritus of human movement across space and time, evolving and devolving into baroque and poetic forms.” Take a look:
(WS is also proud to claim Cardona as former board member—Thank you for your service, Sara!

Former WS Director will host two events for the 2021 Lit Hop: Karen Minzer (aka with an X) is a beat up beat down phoenixed neo beat still tripping poet performer and recent humanities abd phd primarily mentored by the great Fred Curchack, Dr. Shilyh Warren and Dr. Kimberly Hill at University of Texas at Dallas, where she also enjoys the privilege of teaching rhetoric and u.s. history. She has six chapbooks of poetry–all published by either historic Paris Records label or the legendary Roxy and Judy Gordon’s Wowapi. She’s included in Christopher Carmona and Chuck Taylor’s edited anthology, Beatest State in the Union and holds an MFA in Creative Writing from Naropa University where in the ’70s she began a long-term mentorship with Allen Ginsberg. Mairead Case was influential and integral to the more recent Naropa certification adventure. Minzer’s most recent manuscript resides in the Allen Ginsberg Library. Subsequently, Joe Milazzo recently lent a helping hand to re-sequence the pieces. Since then, it’s been kind of dead in the water publishing-wise due to the time-consuming rigors of doctoral process. But an excerpt appears in a cool lit mag, Entropy: “What Kind of Person—A Playlist.” The full manuscript has the same title and can be described as a sui generis collection of subjective, sometimes gossipy biographical sketches, essays and a few contemplative poems mostly influenced by Sei Shonagon, Michel de Montaigne, and Harry Matthews—and beat confessional tendencies. Minzer has worn many hats for WordSpace—as producer and performer in multiply-staged iterations of Dharma Broads; assisting Robert Trammell and later Ben Fountain as a series coordinator and event dishwasher—evolving into a nine-year tenure as director of this awesome literary organization started by The Trammells and Jerry Kelley–and pushed through by other brilliant and talented writers and thinkers. You should check out the list of former WordSpace board members on the website to get an idea of the history of influences on WordSpace. Minzer is currently compiling a creative nonfiction storytelling project of Dallas lit arts comprising oral interviews and gossip, archival research, and Dallas socio/political history.


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