Skip to Primary Menu Skip to Utility Menu Skip to Main Content Skip to Footer
UC Santa Cruz Logo Institute of the Arts and Sciences
UC Santa Cruz Logo

Creating Art in/with Community: A Conversation with Josué Rojas and John Jota Leaños

Loading Events
  • This event has passed.

May 11 @ 7:00 pm 8:30 pm

Attendance is free and by RSVP.

Artist and muralist Josué Rojas, currently artist-in-residence at UC Santa Cruz’s Dolores Huerta Research Center for the Americas, will be in conversation with award-winning artist John Jota Leaños, professor, film and digital media, on May 11, 2023 at the Institute of the Arts and Sciences galleries in the Westside of Santa Cruz.

Drawing on Rojas’ twenty-five years experience creating murals and public art in the Bay Area, the conversation will focus on the roles that art can take in cultivating community by drawing attention to key social issues and celebrating communal resilience. From a recent project on Folsom Street commemorating the victims of gun violence as part of the Mission’s long culture of street art to a mural enacting intercultural solidarity at the Chinese Historical Society of America, Rojas has shown how public art can be a vital tool of civic engagement, particularly in the service of empowering marginalized and migrant communities.

The discussion will also examine how Rojas uses his art practice to empower Chicanx/Latinx communities at UC Santa Cruz. Currently, Rojas is working with students, faculty, and staff to create a mural in honor of the thirtieth anniversary of the Dolores Huerta Research Center for the Americas (formerly the Research Center for the Americas). Founded in 1992, and the first research center in the UC system to put in conversation the historically disconnected fields of Chicanx/Latinx and Latin American Studies, the Huerta Center has a long history of working to drive positive social change through multidisciplinary conversation, which Rojas’ mural will celebrate.

Rojas, whose work is rooted in both Central American and Chicanx traditions and who has collaborated with organizations like Mission Food Hub and the Ukiah Valley Youth Leadership Coalition, is ideally placed to commemorate the Huerta Center’s path-defining work. Celina Lucero, director of Horizons Unlimited, says: “his work has cultural resonance and centers the Latino culture in all its beauty and diversity.”

This event is co-presented by the Dolores Huerta Research Center for the Americas, Institute of the Arts and Sciences, Arts Research Institute’s Arts and Oppression Initiative, and The Humanities Institute.

Josué Rojas is a practicing artist, educator, and Mission native with over two decades of experience in fine arts, community arts, arts leadership, and bilingual and ethnic media in the San Francisco Bay Area. Throughout his many endeavors, his work and vision have been characterized by a commitment to San Francisco’s cherished values of community arts and media, civic engagement, social justice and empowerment for migrant communities and marginalized communities at large.

Rojas holds a BFA from California College of the Arts and an MFA from Boston University. The former director of Acción Latina, his work has been supported by organizations including the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts.

John Jota Leaños is an award-winning Mestizo (Xicano/Italian/Chumash) new media artist who uses animation, documentary, and performance to explore the convergence of memory, social space, and decolonization. Leaños’ animation work has been shown internationally at festivals and museums including Sundance Film Festival, Cannes Short Film Corner, the Morelia International Film Festival, Mexico, San Francisco International Festival Animation, the KOS Convention 07, and the Museum of Contemporary Art, San Diego. Leaños has also exhibited at the Whitney Biennial in New York, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles, and Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Leaños is a Guggenheim Fellow in Film, Creative Capital Foundation Grantee, a United States Artist Fellow and has been an artist in residence at the University of California, Santa Barbara in the Center for Chicano Studies, Carnegie Mellon University in the Center for Arts in Society, and the Headlands Center for the Arts. Leaños is currently a Professor of Film & Digital Media at the University of California, Santa Cruz.

100 Panetta Avenue
Santa Cruz, California 95060 United States
+ Google Map
View Venue Website