Blog Posting by Lou Baron, Culture and Communication ‘23, minors in Spanish and Honors Interdisciplinary Studies.
Pedro X. Molina is the Ithaca City of Asylum (ICOA) resident artist. An acclaimed political cartoonist from Nicaragua, Molina fled the country after the government began to threaten and kill journalists. He has taken refuge in Ithaca since August of 2019. He is also a visiting international scholar in the Ithaca College Honors Program.
Lou Baron: Tell me a bit about your artistic journey. How did you come to love cartoons? What aspect of this work are you most passionate about?
Pedro X. Molina: I grew up in the 80's in Nicaragua. At that time, because of the war, there was an economic embargo put by the Reagan Administration over Nicaragua. For that reason, as kids we didn't have access to many ways of entertainment that were usual for kids in other countries. For example, we only had one TV channel that would work only for a number of hours in the day and the cartoons you could see there were very old and scarce.
We didn't have access to superhero comics or many children's books, so what I could find to entertain myself was humor magazines from Mexico, Cuba and Argentina. Many of those publications also included comics and cartoons related to social and political issues.
That was the beginning of everything for me. I love everything about this job. Having the chance to offer my opinion on different subjects, contribute to debate on topics that I care about, express myself freely and do all that through humor.
LB: How did you find the ICOA and become its resident artist?
PXM: We were connected by a couple of international cartoonists organizations that I was in contact with. They were monitoring my situation into the general crisis that started in Nicaragua in 2018. I'm absolutely grateful for the chance that ICOA gave me and my family to come over here and be able to keep doing my job in a secure environment.
LB: How has the pandemic impacted your thinking as both a professor and an artist?
PXM: As a cartoonist, being locked on my house most of the time working was pretty much the usual before the pandemic. (I even did a short comic story about that) But of course it always affects you when it's something that you don't do by choice, but because the situation forces you.
As a professor, I'm sad I was not able to connect with my students and the rest of the faculty at a level I was hoping for. There is no replacement for human interaction in education. But I have been trying to do the best I can with what I have at hand.
LB: As a part of FLEFF this year, you're having a conversation with Barbara Adams of the Writing department. What can festival goers expect from this event and why should we be excited to listen in?
PXM: Well, I'll be sharing about my particular way of dealing with different kinds of crises as an artist. How art can help you to sustain yourself, not only in an economic way, but also in a more deeper, emotional and spiritual way.
Be sure to attend the virtual conversation with Pedro X. Molina on Friday, March 26th from 12:00-1:15 PM!