Karma Leigh grew up a proud Chicana in Colorado with one foot in the city and one in the hills of the Rocky Mountains. This balance was one of the things that cemented her desire to take influences from both and weave them on a canvas with paint. Stories and experiences from her culture blend with the wildlife and environment of her home state. When Karma was old enough she went in search of different environments to explore, traveling all over the country and landing in Phoenix to expand her palate into the desert.
Upon returning to Colorado, she hit the ground running and began building a multifaceted art career that danced between jewelry, canvas painting and the occasional wall as the urge to teach these crafts grew in the back of her mind.
Thus, her desire to beautify her city did not stop with paint and brushes. She organized many vendor markets for clients like Femfest, taught for the Epic Arts Program at Redline, and was the former Education Coordinator for Museo de las Americas where she has been a teacher for 7 years. She is also an art teacher with Voz y Corazón, where she has resided for 6 years.
Art, community, kids and culture are the four colors that make her murals and paintings so amazing around the city of Denver and beyond.
Karma Leigh on Art, Books, and Libraries
- What book as a kid, influenced your imagination to pick up a crayon and begin making art?
I was always making art but I can definitely say that Dr. Seuss really inspired me when I was growing up to be creative and imagine new worlds and odd creatures; Yertle the Turtle was a fav! Shel Silverstein and Scary Stories were also a huge influence, particularly for drawing. A few others that brought me into a creative and imaginative space of inspiration were Mercer Mayer and Animalia by Graeme Base. I was reading most of younger years because the library was free and that’s where our mom took us for entertainment!
- What book are you currently reading that influences you in either a creative way or a professional way?
My creativity is fueled by a spiritual connection. As a self-taught artist, I paint and create because my soul feels compelled to do so. Reading helps me focus on feelings or the non-thinking part of myself that lets my paint flow. Currently I am reading Women Who Run with Wolves (Clarissa Pinkola Estés) for the soul inspo and I just finished Blood Communion: A Tale of Prince Lestat by Anne Rice, she always makes me feel inspired by the worlds she creates.
- What do you think is the most important resource that Libraries provide to you as an artist?
A plethora of research and inspiration available for free! There is also something so calming about being in a library. Everyone there enjoys books and respect the calmness that is inside the library. It is a great place to just sit and think.
- What is your current/favorite/most-used branch of the Denver Public Library?
It hands down is the Central branch. The views, the mix of people, the location… I love being inside there.
- If you were offered a gigantic wall on the outside of a Library, what would your paint to display what a library means to you?
If I were painting a library wall, I would be inspired to paint the amazing ways worlds come from words on paper and mix into reality, something that feels almost like a dream. It would definitely not make logical sense but would strike viewers as something familiar and individual to themselves. I think that’s what books do. I would definitely try to capture the essence of how books create an independent world for every reader of the same book/s.
Ex Libris: Denver Artists is a series featuring local street artists, focusing on their connection to books and the importance of libraries to the artistic community. Series concept and interview by Sean Ryerson.