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Leo Tanguma and his Mural The Torch of Quetzalcoatl
Artist Statement
From poor rural areas to urban barrios, public schools, prisons, universities, museums and many other places, I have tried to paint relevant and meaningful murals for the community.
       My upbringing by farm-worker parents with their values and religious beliefs, as well as my later participation in  the Chicano Movement, inspired me to paint murals for more than forty years. Studying under African-American professor and muralist Dr. John Biggers at Texas Southern University in Houston increased my understanding of and ability to paint murals. I was also fortunate to meet the Mexican mural master David Alfaro Siqueiros, who inspired me to paint about social issues in the U.S.
In 1973, I developed a concept for sculptural free-standing murals, which can be transported and exhibited in many places. This has proven to  be very effective in conveying mural messages, as their very shapes and structural configurations excite and inspire mural spectators. I involve youth and community members in planning, constructing, priming and texturizing the mural panels. The unusual shapes stimulate greater interest in participants to internalize the mural theme and its meaning and share this with others.
A key element found in my work is the struggle for human liberation and democracy. This refers to dehumanizing  conditions oppressed people strive to overcome, such as poverty and homelessness in our cities, the destruction of the environment, racism and exploitation, or any other unjust conditions.
These issues, in my opinion, should be addressed by artists.
-Leo Tanguma
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