BFA, Southwest Texas State University
MFA, University of Mississippi
Leandra Urrutia was born and raised in San Antonio, Texas. She began drawing and sculpting at an early age, influenced by the rich culture and traditions of her Mexican-American heritage. In particular, artifacts and folklore surrounding Dr. Aureliano Urrutia, a controversial and legendary San Antonian, inspired her early forms. Through her art, Urrutia addresses discordant elements of intimacy including attraction, repulsion and perseverance. Sculpture, installation and wall work dominate the body of her portfolio.
Urrutia exhibits her work locally, regionally and nationally. In 2007, she was awarded “Emerging Artist” by the National Council for the Education of Ceramic Arts in Louisville, Ky. Her work is included in the Sandford M. and Diane Besser collection and is part of the Kinsey Institute’s permanent collection. Additionally, the Lark Ceramic Books 500 Figures and Clay and 500 Ceramic Sculptures feature samples of her pieces. Urrutia is associate professor of Studio Art and currently serves the faculty and administration of Memphis College of Art. She has been teaching at MCA since 2002. Since 2013, Urrutia has participated in the Studio Nong Collective, a sculpture residency and cultural exchange with master sculptors from the Guangxi Arts Institute and professional artists and educators from the Kansas City Arts Institute. The artists have traveled and exhibited internationally to participate in studio residency with one another, and have exhibited in Memphis, Tennessee; Kansas City, Missouri; and at the Guangxi Arts Institute in China. Urrutia was able to first participate in this exciting partnership and exchange upon her receipt of ArtsMemphis' Emmett O'Ryan Award in 2014.
Urrutia’s building expertise ranges from trompe l’oeil to abstraction with various technical proficiencies, including image transfer, mould making and slip casting. She chooses materials and methods that best communicate her intended message, and she trains her students to allow content to lead to process and media choice. In addition to sculpting, Urrutia creates utilitarian, high-fire reduction ware and is a functioning member of the Memphis Potters’ Guild. She has worked extensively with MCA Assistant Professor Zark Strasburger to co-create a unique content-centric course experience entitled “Idea, Process, and Criticism.” This class has been the subject of presentations to faculty and various academic colleagues across the country at conferences that include the Association of Independent Colleges of Art and Design and the Mid-America College Art Association.
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