Local Latino/a Artist

of the Month

- Karma Leigh -

Karma Leigh is a Chicana from Colorado who was blessed to grow up between two worlds, the urban life of the city and the natural wonders of the Rockies. Both have inspired her work as an artist and educator. Karma has always had an innate desire for exploration and traveled to many cities in the US, which once landed her in Phoenix for three years. It was there, in Phoenix, that her passion to create and hone her skills as an artist were fueled by the many prolific artists she was surrounded by.

 

Karma is a self-taught painter, muralist, curator and creator of jewelry and tangible goods. Her talents are not limited to the paint and palette; she has helped organize successful vendor markets for FemFest, taught for the EPIC Arts Program out of Redline Gallery, was the former Education Coordinator for Museo de las Americas, and has been a teacher at Museo for seven years. Karma is also an art teacher with Voz y Corazon, a suicide prevention program in Denver. She has been there for five years and will be teaching her own art programs in 2021. 

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Bird Kin Messages: 36" x 48"  acrylic on canvas.

Painting created for the Bird Kin Messages oracle deck. I was the artist for this project that was lead and created by Sumer.

Address the use of color in your work.

One of the things I hear most often from people in regards to my work is how much they love the way I use color. I absolutely LOVE color and I love using color in non-traditional ways. Adding pops of neons to skin color, imagining hair or fur in vibrant color schemes... I love it. It brings me joy and I hope it brings viewers of my work joy as well! It is my imagination, the way I view the world. I wonder, what it would be like with purple foxes running around with pink eyes? What if all the grey buildings had bold color schemes? I guess it matches my personality and spirit well. I am a pretty bold person. 

How do you incorporate your heritage /identity/ culture into your work and why?

 

I use a lot of subtle symbolism in my work. I like adding my spiritual beliefs and connection to the earth through the use of animals and the animal embodiments of the Aztec pantheon. Colors are something I LOVE to play with in all the work I do. Often, I also like to paint a lot of birds, which I have a strong connection to. Through colonization and the industrial age, we have lost our natural connection to the earth and separated ourselves from her. I love to bring those connections back through my paintings. I am also focused on painted women and femme energies in my work. I find it is very important to include imagery that represents my feelings, beliefs, and world. 

Yo Soy Xicana _web.jpg
Family Portrait.jpg

Family Portrait: Commissioned 12" x 12" painting created with four figures representing each family member. The background is an Ollin. Acrylic on wood panel.

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Yo Soy Chicana: Permanent part of the Latino Cultral Art Center Collections. Was on display and created for the "Hecho en Colorado" exhibit at History Colorado.

Tell us a bit about being a Latino artist or the Latino artist community.

 

As an artist, I have grown a lot over the years. Being self-taught, it took me a while to find the spaces and styles I felt best creating in. This was also part of my healing journey which brought me to a space where I self-identify as a Chicana. I love to include cultura in my work but it is not the predominant theme in how and what I paint. I am Chicana. Therefore,  whatever I create is a representation of that too.

 

Something that has brought me so much joy has been working at Museo de las Americas for the last eight years and being surrounded by an incredible amount of artwork, from collections to exhibitions, and meeting a lot of incredible artists. It has been so inspiring!

 

Colorado has such an amazing history of Latina/o culture and a long list of amazing artists. It was really amazing to see the culmination of that in the group show “Hecho en Colorado” curated by Latino Cultural Arts Center. There were so many representations of styles, artists, and cultural representations over several generations of artists. I am happy I am able to do what I love, surrounded by a culture I love. And I'm happy I get to show bits of it to the world through art. 

"Schism" Mural collaboration with Miss Meeg for Crush walls in 2020. Acrylic and Aerosol.

This mural was created as a discussion about the border wall and its negative impact on the Sky Island region of New Mexico, Arizona and Mexican border. Each animal represented is already beginning to feel the ill effects of the destruction of this fragile ecosystem.

Location: Alley behind Central Market in Denver, 27th and Larimer 

Maiz Food truck. Acrylic and Aerosol 2020/21

Location: Rollin 'round the streets of Denver!

To shop and view a collection of Karma's work, visit:

www.KarmaLeighta.com

karmaleighta@gmail.com 

In addition to the mural locations given in the photo captions above, Karma has a mural, Lineas de Sangre, in the parking lot of Museo de Las Americas in the Art District on Santa Fe. Her work is also part of The All-Star Alliance: Denver's Cross-Cultural Murals exhibit at the McNichols Civic Center Building, Third Floor from  07/06/21 - 10/3/21.

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All images are the property of Karma Leigh.

Some content may have been edited for clarity.