I am Celeste Contreras .
My full legal name is Jessicanne Celeste Skierski. I prefer to honor my Mother by using her last name, Contreras in all of my art work. She is my Mom and my Dad. She raised me. I am Mexican-Mexica,Polish-Blackfeet Cherokee. Artist. Activist. Parade maker. Born in Dallas, Texas raised in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Founder of Milwaukee’s Dia de los Muertos Parade. Currently working towards an MFA in Print + Narrative Form at UW-Milwaukee’s Peck School of the Arts, 2019-2022. I hold a B.F.A. in Studio Arts with a minor in Art History from Alverno College, 2014-2018, graduated with honors.
My work of art reflects my heritage through self-portraits, shrines, drawings and illustrations. My work is a blend of cultural and spiritual reflections. My reflections come from past experiences that were life altering and sometimes difficult. A reoccurring theme is death, rebirth, Mexica(Me-shi-ka) spiritual teachings, portraits, altars, dolls and family. Some of my biggest influences have been living abroad in other countries, my family history, and folk art from different cultures.
I have studied abroad in Italy and Thailand and have lived abroad in Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua and Costa Rica. My family history is dominated by strong women. My Mexican roots and Mexica spiritual practices have an emphasis on the divine sacred female and the moon. My work is a reflection of my ancestors, in female forms of strong women coming together, portraits and stories of the moon.
My Mexica (Aztec), spirituality is very important in my life and has become a main theme in my art this final year at Alverno College. I can see myself creating books with my illustrations, educating youth about the importance of respecting tradition, elders and ceremonial teachings.
Education + Achievements
BFA, Alverno College 2014-2018, Cum Laude
Doherty Scholar, Alverno College, 2015
Artist-in-Resident, Milwaukee Public Library 2019
MFA, UW-Milwaukee’s Peck School of the Arts 2019-2022
Community Arts/Arts ECO Teacher Assistant/Project Assistant, UW-Milwaukee 2019-2020
Advanced Opportunity Program Fellowship (AOP), UW-Milwaukee 2020-2021
Graduate Student Excellence Fellowship (GSEF), UW-Milwaukee 2020-2021