About MICA

Our Mission

MICA is a grassroots cultural organization dedicated to arts, justice, belonging, and community power.

Paper butterflies on a string and a blue background
Photo from Zacuanpapalotls by artist Nadia Rea Morales

Our Purpose

Arts: MICA disrupts systemic racism and oppression in the arts by providing opportunities and support for critical, emerging, and necessary artistic voices.

Justice: MICA engages in arts-based activism and education to advance racial, social, and cultural justice.

Belonging: MICA builds inclusive community by bringing people together in spaces of learning and belonging.

Power: MICA creates platforms to amplify the priorities and creative power of Salt Lake’s west side communities.

Our Vision

We envision a society where people can find community and creative power through the arts; a society where every individual has full cultural citizenship — the right to belong; a society where we are all co-creators of new and just systems.

History of MICA

Mestizo Institute of Culture and Arts (MICA) was founded in 2003 by artists and activists Ruby Chacón and Terry Hurst out of the necessity to create a public space on Salt Lake City’s West Side that gave underrepresented artists a platform to tell their own stories through art.

Our co-founders embraced the many complexities behind the concept of mestizaje (Spanish for mixture or miscegenation) to establish an organization in our community. Mestizo, as an identity, is one that celebrates and honors our indigeneity and our ancestors, but also acknowledges the historical traumas that stem from colonization. Mestizo Institute of Culture and Arts embraces this concept of Mestizo, as one that seeks to empower our community in order to celebrate, acknowledge, and collectively redefine our identity.

Since our founding, MICA has emerged as one of the most important spaces in Utah for the exploration of the issues that are central to our state’s multiple diverse communities – concepts such as multiculturalism, youth, activism, memory, cultural affirmation, diversity, expression, family, equality, and social justice.

For almost two decades, our interdisciplinary cultural programs and exhibitions have celebrated and showcased the work of local, national, and international artists, emerging and established, from many different backgrounds. Additionally, MICA has provided hundreds of West Side youth, primarily from immigrant and refugee backgrounds, with a creative space to engage in activism and art.

For many years, MICA was located inside Mestizo Coffeehouse in Salt Lake City’s West Side. In 2018, MICA relocated to its current home, inside another West Side cultural institution, Sugar Space Arts Warehouse, where it continues to provide a space for our West Side communities to come together, celebrate one another, and collective transform our social and cultural environment into a place of justice and equality.

The MICA Board

Header image: Self as Undocumented, by Ruby Chacón