Born and raised on the east side of Los Angeles, Marisa Martinez comes from a family of artists, progressive educators, and conscious thinkers. From an early age she was exposed and engaged in the Eastside arts scene. A performing artist, singer, and songwriter, Marisa also studies traditional Mexican folk music with a community of Mexican and Chican@ musicians in Los Angeles. She holds a B.A. in Comparative Literature and Education from UCLA, and comes to ACTA with years of community arts-based organizing and development experience, as well as an early childhood education background. She was a political and cultural organizer during her college years within student organizations, working around issues of race, politics, class, LGBTQI issues, and the arts. After college, she taught preschool at Pacific Oaks Children’s School in Pasadena, a progressive school, based in emergent and anti-bias curriculum. She then made a career change and began working with Nobuko Miyamoto at Great Leap, helping to organize the FandangObon Eco Fest, rooted in the Little Tokyo Community that celebrates the similarities and difference between traditional music and dance-based cultural convening methods throughout Japanese, Mexican, and African cultural traditions. Marisa was part of the organizing team that developed the first ever FandangObon Environmental Encuentro in Los Angeles that took place at the Aratani theater in Little Tokyo.
Marisa joined ACTA as a full-time coordinator for the Arts in Corrections program in January 2017. As Arts in Corrections Program Coordinator, Marisa is currently coordinating artistic residencies in five different state facilities throughout southern and central California, with up to four traditional arts-based classes running at each facility. Marisa is based at ACTA’s Los Angeles field office.