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Local Artist Plants Seeds of Community

Local Artist Plants Seeds of Community

A local artist uses seeds to make giant murals with community members throughout the city.

A local artist will have 10 large format murals on display this month. But these are not just any murals – the nature-themed pieces are made entirely out of seeds. seedart2-17

Jade Leyva has been interested in environmentalism her whole life and places themes of unity with nature and environmentalism in her art.

The Mexican-born artist said seed murals are a traditional art form, often created as a community activity during Mexican festivals and holidays.

“They create these beautiful, super intricate murals that would blow your mind away,” Leyva said. “And I said, ‘Maybe I can make a piece that would be a simple six-feet by three-feet and have the community work on it and see how it works out.”

Leyva’s idea was a huge success and attracted members of the community from all walks of life. Leyva said organic farmers from Albuquerque’s South Valley, teachers and preservationists helped construct the first mural, which was completed on the first day thanks to a large turnout. Leyva was also contacted by teachers to come to their schools to which she agreed.

“I just didn’t even think about it, I just thought, ‘yeah, I’ll do it’,” Leyva said. “I just love the education side of things … I just saw it like the perfect opportunity to talk to people, the kids, the adults, whoever would like to invite us to talk to them about seed preservation and organic nutrition and how that’s going to save pollinators like bees.”

Leyva said each mural at the exhibit will have a different theme relating to environmental preservation with supplemental educational material.

“Every one of the pieces is special and they all have a different story, and they’re all awesome,” she said.

Leyva said she has been surrounded by art her entire life. In her teens she found work at the prestigious Mexico City art gallery, Samarkanda, where she was exposed to the works of Latin masters such as Frida Kahlo, Diego Rivera, and David Alfaro Siquieros and other cultural works that expanded her knowledge of Mexican culture and art. But Leyva herself didn’t pursue art until her early 20s.

“It was about 17 years ago I met my mentor, Bill Freeman,” Leyva said. “He was a fulltime artist and potter and that’s when I started thinking about pursuing an art career. I was 23 years old when that happened.”

Leyva said she initially started by crafting and restoring pottery like her mentor, but decided it wasn’t the medium for her. It was after eight years of experimentation before she realized what she wanted to do as an artist.

“I just decided one day ‘you know, I don’t have to look at anything I can just base things out of my imagination.” Leyva said. “The moment I decided not to look at anything anymore or mimic art from other people is when I found my style.”

Opening night for Leyva’s exhibit is Sept. 9 from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. in the education building at The National Hispanic Cultural Center. It will be on display until Oct. 10.


Fin Martinez is a freelance reporter. Reach him at finmtz@gmail.com

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Dennis Domrzalski is managing editor of ABQ Free Press. Reach him at dennis@freeabq.com.

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