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

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, 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.”



Thursday, May 11, 2023 at 7:00pm to 8:30pm

Institute of the Arts and Sciences 100 Panetta Ave

Recent Activity