Leticia Tanguma will be in the Paint Studio demonstrating portraits in oil and acrylic noon–3 pm June 29-30 & July 6-7, 2019. The Paint Studio is included with general admission, which is free for members and youth 18 and under.
– Leticia Tanguma
To me, art is in a person’s glance, laughter, grito, or cry. Art is the interaction between this candor and the universe. When I create art, my challenge is to reflect truth, whether within beauty or darkness or whether in present tensions or in the echoes of generations. I am guided by love.
Denver artist Leticia Tanguma paints social justice murals, abstract, and representational art, often reflecting her own struggles, pain, and light, and often reflecting the voices of others’ stories of hardship and triumph. For the past 20 years, Leticia has created community art, including murals about peace at locations in Denver and Boulder.
Her most recent murals are for Cross Purpose, an organization dedicated to lifting people out of poverty through education and community development, Earthlinks, an organization helping people who are homeless become self-sufficient by creating and selling nature crafts, and the Troy Chavez Memorial Peace Garden, a community garden founded for youth who have been killed by violence. She has also created artworks for the Gathering Place, which helps women, children, and transgendered individuals as they survive homelessness and poverty. Recently, Leticia joined Las Adelitas Living the Arts, a nonprofit organization supporting Latina artists overcoming trauma.
Anwyn Steele: What will your demo at the DAM look like? What can visitors expect?
Leticia Tanguma: I will have acrylic and oil painting portraits of people who I know and people who I imagine. Some of the paintings will include images that represent attributes or the spirituality of the people I am painting. Other paintings are portraits of humanity. I plan to invite people to actually paint portraits with me. I'd like to discuss with them how art reflects humanity—both its frailties and beauty. I paint things that are both pretty and ugly, yet speak of truth and hope.
AS: You have mentioned that you are influenced by the great Mexican muralist David Alfaro Siqueiros as well as your father, Leo Tanguma, who also is a muralist. How do you see your murals as continuing these practices? Do you see your work as breaking from these traditions in any way?
LT: I am inspired to paint murals of social conscience by the work of my father, Leo Tanguma. I wish to continue his legacy and that of the Mexican mural masters such as David Alfaro Siqueiros, who painted people’s struggles to overcome poverty and oppression. I also wish to continue the legacy of my indigenous heritage of storytelling.
AS: What are you thinking about when you begin a new painting? Do you decide to represent something specific or do your compositions take form more organically?
LT: My process of mural painting includes interviewing people from all walks of life who have experienced abuse and poverty. We discuss universal themes of healing, justice, and peace. I then create both poetry and mural art to reflect the stories and journeys we share.
Photo: Leticia Tanguma. Denver, CO, 2019. Courtesy of the artist.