Layqa Nuna Yawar (b. 1984, Ecuador; lives in the United States) migrated to the United States in the late 1990s, during a period of severe economic and political instability in Ecuador. This experience framed his understanding of global migration as a necessity more than a privilege and created a sense of fracture and cross-cultural identity that informed his early street art.
Yawar’s practice now includes studio paintings, murals, installations, curation, and public art made with underrepresented communities of color. These projects’ varied goals include community celebration, climate change awareness, and city beautification. Exhibited internationally, Yawar is a founding member, teaching artist, and former curator of Young New Yorkers, a Brooklyn-based program that provides an art-based alternative to incarceration.
Layqa Nuna Yawar
As an artist, muralist, and educator, my work focuses on amplifying the silenced narratives of underserved communities, migrants, and people of color through public art and figurative representation. My aim is to foster the imagination of a brighter and more just future, while also questioning and confronting oppression, prejudice, and exploitation.
My practice is rooted in a methodology of social engagement. Each project begins with a process of identifying a shared vision for a public mural by having conversations and creating artwork—photography, drawing, painting—with and of my host communities. The end result is a piece of collaborative artwork, which may take various forms, including large scale murals and installations, paintings, drawings, sculptures, public art interventions, exhibitions (in museums, galleries, and classrooms), lectures, curation, or a mixture of some or all of the above.
My work is often ephemeral and only fully complete when viewers and stakeholders accept or engage with it in their communities. Since the artwork reflects the process and the communities that helped create it, the impact is often immediate. The artwork’s radical vision creates dialogue—or sometimes conflict—and touches people personally by offering counter-narratives of hope.
—Layqa Nuna Yawar, September 2018