The passions that would drive Mita Cuaróns life and career were born of conflicting influences in her early life. Born in East Los Angeles to a Mexican American father and a Jewish mother, she was raised in an atmosphere conducive to social activism. Both her parents were active in social and union protest activities and taught her and her siblings about their commitments. It was Cuaróns aunt, the matriarch of the family and a devout Catholic, who insisted on her Catholic education. But the young Cuarón was unable to reconcile the teachings of the church with the lessons she was learning at home, finding more spiritual solace in her aunts collection of sacred statues and icons. Ultimately she rejected formal religious training, and with the arrival of the Chicano movement she was ripe for participation in protest activities, shoulder to shoulder with her parents and other relatives. Thus, when she began to study art, she brought to her pursuits a background of cultural conflict. Cuarón was educated at Riverside City College and at California State University, Long Beach, where she studied to become a nurse. As an artist she was largely self-taught but refined her skills with further study at Self-Help Graphics. Although she studied and has worked with printmaking, she came to specialize in water color. She found herself drawn to religious subject matter, in particular the Virgin of Guadalupe, whom she had discovered, thanks to her aunts influence, in childhood. In Cuaróns eyes, the Virgin became an inspirational force apart from the traditional teachings associated with her: I was delighted to learn that she was, like me, a Mexican. She later told a journalist: I view the Virgin of Guadalupe as a very strong, very empowering and spiritual figure in my life. I find her to be a great inspiration.