Mexican American artist Alfredo Ponce said the news of the Supreme Court decision overturning Roe v. Wade hit him hard.
The day of the ruling, the Sanger, California, resident sat with his wife, who is an OB-GYN, “trying to process this whole thing and what the women’s rights and reproductive health services is going to look for women moving forward,” he told NBC News.
Known to his thousands of followers on Instagram as Pholk Giant, Ponce has been drawing attention for his colorful digital art focusing on Latino themes and issues.
Largely inspired by Lotería, a Mexican bingo-style game that uses colorful images to replace bingo balls, his art style and the pieces he creates resemble the game’s cards.
Four of Ponce’s art pieces about essential workers during the Covid pandemic have been acquired by the Library of Congress.
When it comes to reproductive rights, “I advocate for my girls, my wife is in the field,” he said. The couple have two daughters, ages 12 and 16.
“They’re going to make choices,” he said, speaking about the women in his life. “I just want to make sure that they have access to all of the health care that’s possible to ensure that their futures take the trajectory that they want.”
That day the Supreme Court announced its decision, Ponce said, he picked up his iPad and Apple Pencil and began drawing and sharing his images with his more than 9,500 Instagram followers.
One piece featured Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., surrounded by abortion rights slogans and symbols, including DC Comics’ Wonder Woman.
Ponce said he comes from a family of “very strong” women. “My mother worked all her life,” he said. “I have two older sisters that are very independent.”
He said the messages he’s been sending with his “little platform and the little pieces of the work” are generating attention.
“As issues come up, I just like to create pieces that are thought-provoking and that can hopefully create some dialogue,” Ponce said. “This really is about being aware and understanding that we are more alike than we are different.”
Ponce was born in a small town in the state of Jalisco, Mexico. His family migrated to Fresno, California, and he worked with his migrant farmworker family picking grapes in California’s Central Valley.
Creating art was always a childhood dream, he said, as he went on to pursue a doctorate in Education from the University of Southern California.
Now a principal at Sanger Unified School District’s Community Day School, he taught himself the vector graphics art he is now known for on social media.
His work has captured the attention of celebrities including comedian and actor George Lopez, who commissioned his work, as well as Chris Pérez, husband of the Latina singing icon Selena.
“Anything that I see, I see it through the eyes of a Latino, through the eyes of an immigrant,” Ponce said, “and I try to definitely add the Latino feel.”