Mia Zapata - The Life and Death of a Hero
Mia Zapata left her friends in a typical way, hugging them and letting them know she would see them in the morning. She was riding high off her recent tour and the exciting future awaiting her band, The Gits, with a major label record contract within their grasp. They had worked long and hard to reach this success. This group had influenced many artists and had the true friendship and well wishes of an entire community. This tight knit group of artists formed the grunge music scene, and Seattle would become the epicenter for counter culture music for the next decade. Mia left the bar, ready to embrace the future with the courage and fortitude which had gotten her to this point in her life.
Mia encountered a monster on her short walk home. She was snatched from the comfortable surroundings she had traversed nightly in the years leading up to this moment. She was dragged into a secluded area. She was beaten mercilessly. Her one true weapon, her voice, was quelched by large hands of stone wrapped around her vibrant, perfect vocal chords, leaving only silence in the dark night that was recently so filled with hope. She was raped and strangled to death with the drawstring of her Gitz sweatshirt. With no power to scream, she silently looked into the steel cold eyes of this unfeeling, unremorseful giant - the last sight she would ever see. Did she succumb with sorrow and resignation? Or did she die with the stare of vengeance that was characteristic of her revolutionary heritage? No one can know. No one was there. She was alone.
The aftermath of this event led to misgivings, doubt, and mistrust throughout the community. No one felt safe. No one had answers. Anyone who interacted with Mia was a suspect. Many more people had nagging suspicions about who could have perpetrated such an atrocity. The groundswell of support for Mia, her family, and the pursuit of her vindication was immense. Seattle’s burgeoning music scene was strongly influenced by Mia and her band The Gits, and rallied to raise money for a private investigator. Although the investigation was intense and thorough, there were no traces of evidence to indicate any individual assailant.
And then came science...
In the following decade, new DNA technologies came into existence that were able to test the tiniest bit of DNA evidence and identify positive matches through a nationwide database. In 2003, this database matched saliva taken from the crime scene to recently incarcerated Jesus Mezquia. Mezquia was found to have been a taxi driver in the area at the time of Mia’s death. In 2004, Mezquia was sentenced to 37 years in prison. Mia, a direct descendent of Mexican Revolutionary Emiliano Zapata, is avenged, and remembered with our love and respect. She was 27 years old.
Within this piece, we seek to capture the feeling of protection we wish we were able to provide for Mia and all victims of violent assault. The shield is a talisman and represents defense and strength, and can be used to empower the mind to make conscious decisions, and to avoid putting oneself at risk. We all can be proactive and watch out for each other.
Made from a discarded drum cymbal and repurposed bicycle inner tube, the materials used to create the choker are both flexible and durable. It is a strong piece, and we hope to embrace Mia and her independence in the aesthetic. We have collaborated on the design with our good friend at Beatrice Holiday. We feel Mia’s legacy was community. She collaborated with her peers to inspire and create a movement. We are all part of a bigger picture and we all can contribute to make our communities stronger.