I am Celestina Cardona Billington, an artist of multiethnic neo-Tejana origins. I am 28 years old. While my work has inspired diverse audiences and exhibited in major theaters and galleries around the world-- I would still refer to myself as an "emerging artist." Because, as they say, "Big deal." I am currently located in NYC's iconic East Village where I can be found wining, dining and at the latest gallery and theater openings. I hail from the urban South, the sprawling bayous and heat of Houston, Texas.
Today, I am a masters scholar of Arts Administration at Columbia University, where I am supported by generous scholarships. I received my undergraduate degree from the University of Houston in 2016, where I majored in Creative Writing, minored in Women's Studies, and received two years of Conservatory training as an actress.
Beyond my training in the University system, I have served as an AmeriCorps VISTA Steward, through which I led an Artist in Residence program in New Bedford, MA. As a working professional, I have collaborated on projects for the National Endowment of the Arts, the NY Department of Cultural Affairs, Lionsgate Films, El Museo de Arte Moderno, La Mama Experimental Theater and many more.
My body, my work, my background and my life resist easy classification. I'm a "multidisciplinary" artist, a "multiethnic" woman, a deviant scholar and a vagabond--driven as much by a self-respecting (sometimes self-obsessed) ego as by compassion for the world. This perspective has been enhanced by my global travels as a solo female backpacker before settling in NYC (for now.)
Before coming to New York, I spent five years traveling the world solo. I supported myself by writing, performing, directing . . .critiquing the status quo, guilt-tripping my former boyfriends and throwing parties. In other words I was a professional bohemian lay-about. My favorite cities of my travels so far have been Tokyo, Taos, Paris, Glasgow, Distrito Federal and the five NYC boroughs. Houston also has a special place in my heart. It's where I was raised and where my creative career began--I realized I could "be somebody" when the Alley Theater, the largest regional theater outside of NYC, commissioned me to write a one-act play at age 18. It was a small scale hit, so much so that it traveled subsequently in a roadshow across the state.
I am inspired by both my own lived experience and heritage, and the lives of my collaborators, many of whom like me are on the precipice of "being discovered." We come to our work tired and excited, the world we've inherited is full of both despair and promise. Creative courage is reconciling this polarity in the work. I am not interested in cultivating safe spaces so much as I am in breaking down barriers to communication, access and belonging. We should be serious about our values, without taking ourselves too seriously. Tequila con limon.
I believe that breaking down the disciplinary barriers between fields and practitioners is important. Most of all, I am invested in a transformation in the relationship between "artist" and "audience." This is an important evolution in both experiencing and creating art. Agency is key. In my work as a director, my collaborators are treated as peers, not as cogs in a machine. This ethos elongates and complicates the process but I believe it is worthwhile to keeping my integrity.
As a culture-maker, I am invested in combatting the larger trend of cultural production which perpetuates stereotypes, encourages victimhood identities, proliferates propaganda, exacerbates consumerism and silences dissidents. My work resists the demand for easy entertainment, it exists not to be understood but to be encountered. As such, my work has never sold a product nor has it ever bowed to the demands of trends. Yet, my work has drawn audiences in the thousands, exhibited in galleries around the world, and regardless of scope-- my colleagues and I have always been compensated for our labor. This is not the accident of "genius" but the result of knowledge sharing, community backing, and ongoing conversations with peers, patrons and institutions. A LOVING REMINDER: Power is not only hegemonic, there is a light in all of us that together illuminates the path of justice.
And with even this message, tequila con limon.
I believe in my abilities as a leader of revolutionary art projects and also concede that like all of us, I am still learning. Capisce?