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. Earned my B.A. in Studio Art with a minor in Art History at Alverno College.
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. I can see myself creating books with my illustrations, educating youth about the importance of respecting tradition, elders and ceremonial teachings.
Master of Fine Arts, UWM Peck School of the Arts 2019-2022, Print + Narrative Form
Frederick R. Layton Fellowship, 2019
The Chancellor's Graduate Student Award, 2019
Advanced Opportunity Fellowship 2020-2022
Alverno College 2014-2018, BFA Studio Art/Art History
Summa Cum Laude
Doherty Scholar, Alverno College, 2015
Milwaukee Public Library, Artist in Residence, 2019
House of RAD, Resident Artist, 2022