Kency Cornejo is a pioneer in a field of the arts that has not been deeply explored yet. As a PhD candidate in the Art, Art History and Visual Studies Department at Duke, Kency teaches a course called “Art, Visual Culture & Politics in Central America,” which counts for CLACS’s Certificate on Latin American and Caribbean Studies. For many years now, she has been working in Central America to explore its artistic richness and diversity.
Kency was born in Los Angeles, CA as her parents emigrated from El Salvador during the Salvadoran civil war. She grew up in Compton, a suburb of Los Angeles recognized for its high level of crime and violence. The levels of social inequality and injustice in which Kency grew up allowed her to develop a passion and desire to serve others and promote social conscience and awareness. Kency’s first academic aspiration was to major in Political Science while attending a local community college. Her goal was to become the “The first Latina President of the United States.”
Due to personal reasons, she stopped attending school, but later reentered the academic field by attending UCLA to earn an undergraduate degree in her field: The arts. As she attended UCLA, she decided to do research in Central America. She explored in great depth countries like El Salvador, her parents’ home country. She would observe the high degree of connection between politics and art in everything she would study. Furthermore, this art spoke directly to social injustice and socioeconomic inequality. For example, in El Salvador the political aspect of art is reflected through the campaign posters from the main political parties, ARENA and FMLN. As she did this research, she interviewed many artists such as Roberto Huezo, Ronald Moran and Regina Jose Galindo, artists that portray different aspects of Central America through art such as emigration, environmental issues, indigenous rights, colonialism, politics, etc.
Kency dreams to be able to publish a textbook about Central American art in English and Spanish because currently it is difficult to find information about this aspect of the region. She considers this not only to be a great goal, but also an experiment because it has never been done. Ultimately, Kency wants to keep working in Central America and Compton to promote social conscience through the arts. She wants to share with everyone what she has learned about art and justice.