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Michelle Angela Ortiz is one of two new directors of Monument Lab's board. Photo: Michelle Angela Ortiz/Nathan Venzara.
Michelle Angela Ortiz is one of two new directors of Monument Lab's board. Photo: Michelle Angela Ortiz/Nathan Venzara.

Monument Lab appoints Latina visual artist, muralist to its board of directors

Michelle Angela Ortiz was recently announced as one of two new members of Monument Lab's board of directors, along with Samala.

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The Monument Lab Board of Directors is growing, as it was recently announced that two new members have been appointed.

One of the newly appointed board members is Michelle Angela Ortiz.

The Latina visual artist, skilled muralist, community arts educator and filmmaker, has spent her career using art to represent the people and communities whose histories are often lost or co-opted. 

Through community arts practices, painting, documentaries and public art installations, Ortiz creates a safe space for dialogue around some of the most profound issues facing various communities and individuals. 

Her work tells stories using richly crafted and emotive imagery to claim and transform spaces into a visual affirmation that reveals the strength and spirit of the community. 

Throughout her 20-plus-year career, Ortiz has designed and created over 50 large-scale public works both nationally and internationally. She now brings that experience and impact to Monument Lab’s board of directors. 

“I have watched Monument Lab since 2015 and have had the honor of working with the exceptional team on several projects in the past,” said Ortiz in a statement. “As a new board member, I am excited to offer my perspective as an artist and to be a part of the continued growth of the organization.”

Ortiz becomes the second Latina member of Monument Lab’s board of directors, with the other being its committed and dedicated board chair, Tiffany Tavarez.

In a statement, Tavarez said, “We are continually excited and honored to work with such a brilliant and compassionate group of civic leaders.”

Samala, the head of community & culture at Unshackled Ventures, is the second recently appointed new board member. The pre-seed venture firm works to amplify immigrant entrepreneurs.

A creative mind and leader, Samala’s mediums run the gamut from venture capital to vinyl records. Her personal investments reflect the breadth and depth of her curiosity, creativity and communities.

Samala is the founder and resident DJ of the West Coast’s longest-running 90s night, built and co-founded America’s first digital nonprofit to serve young Asian Pacific American communities, and created one of the earliest digital media distribution networks for mobile users, called START Mobile. 

To her, it’s “an honor and privilege to join” Monument Lab’s board of directors.

“Monuments say so much about who and what we choose to remember, as well as how we collectively understand people, events, and the roles they play in history,” Samala added. 

The two latest additions now bring Monument Lab’s board of directors to nine members.

“In their own ways, they each embody Monument Lab’s values, vision, and commitment to reimagining the monument landscape,” said Tavarez. 

Monument Lab is a Philadelphia-based nonprofit public art and history studio that works to cultivate and facilitate critical conversations around the past, present and future of monuments. 

Its board of directors work to change the status quo of how monuments are made, preserved, and interpreted by contributing to a society defined by joy, regeneration, and repair.

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