As we celebrate the holidays, the New Year, and culture and creativity in our region, we at M-AAA are delighted to introduce our featured artist, Chico Salvador Sierra, a remarkable multidisciplinary artist hailing from El Paso, Texas, and just one example of the vibrant artists who create work right here in the heartland. Sierra’s distinctive approach to his craft, blending pre-colonial imagery with contemporary Chicano aesthetics, sets him apart as an artist with a unique vision and a passion for magnifying overlooked narratives. We commissioned his digital drawing NightLight to help us showcase arts in the heartland and remind everyone to shine a light on culture and creativity, all across your region and all year long.
Below, Sierra tells us a little bit about his inspiration, his process, and what’s next for his artistic practice. Sierra is an alumnus of Artist INC, M-AAA’s professional development series for artists, and an Artist Leadership Fellow.
M-AAA: Can you tell us a bit about yourself and your artistic journey?
Chico Sierra: I’m a multidisciplinary artist originally from El Paso, Texas, now based in the Midwest. My work is driven by a desire to explore and bring to light narratives inspired by pre-colonial imagery, symbols, and contemporary Chicano aesthetics. I find comfort in my creative space surrounded by inspiring books and the meditative sounds of my guitar.
M-AAA: How would you describe your artistic style and inspirations?
Sierra: My work draws inspiration from the cultures and traditions of various Indigenous groups globally. I’m particularly drawn to belief systems rooted in a connection to nature, viewing it as a scientific trajectory often subverted by monotheism and colonialism. While my early work was more specific in subject matter, it has evolved to become larger in scope yet more intentional in conveying the messages I want to share as an artist.
M-AAA: What role does music play in your creative process?
Sierra: Music is an integral part of my creative process. I find solace in working with headphones on, listening to a diverse range of artists—from Chavela Vargas to Minor Threat. It adds another layer to my creative experience and helps me connect with different emotional and cultural nuances.
M-AAA: How has mentorship influenced your artistic career?
Sierra: I’ve been fortunate to have mentors who provided crucial advice throughout my artistic journey. One of the most motivating moments for me was when someone pointed out that my work, at the time, was “lazy.” This critique prompted a significant shift in my practice, emphasizing the importance of time and labor in creating meaningful pieces. The results of that change are evident in my current body of work.
M-AAA: What is your dream project as an artist?
Sierra: My dream project involves creating a series of cultural events and installations, featuring large murals, choreographed dances, and music. The concept is to explore different natural processes, providing a cultural and traditional framework for humanist and non-spiritual philosophies.
M-AAA:Where can people find your work?
Sierra: You can explore my murals at various locations around Kansas City, Missouri, with my most recent large-scale work showcased at Union Station. Additionally, I’ll have work on display at the Kansas City Public Library downtown in March. Stay updated on my latest projects and artwork at www.chicosierra.com.
Chico Sierra’s work is a captivating blend of cultural exploration, artistic evolution, and a commitment to conveying meaningful narratives. We are honored to feature his imagery this holiday season to help illuminate arts, culture, and creativity in the heartland.
Keep an eye out for Chico Sierra’s upcoming projects, and don’t miss the chance to experience his powerful and thought-provoking creations.
Image Credit: NightLight. Artwork by Chico Salvador Sierra. Digital Drawing, 2023
Know an artist or story from our region that needs to be told?