Hüicho Lé at work

Paintings that explore an Oxnard resident’s Mixtec origins are on display through Sept. 26 at California Lutheran University.

A reception for “Hüicho!”, which features art by Hüicho Lé, will be held at 7 p.m. Friday, Sept. 4, in the Kwan Fong Gallery of Art and Culture on the Thousand Oaks campus.

Lé combines contemporary imagery with themes routed from indigenous Mexico and he says he paints to bring respect and honor to his people and to build bridges with others. His paintings depict the “beauty he sees in his life”, with an emphasis on family and friends.

Born to immigrant farmworkers in Watsonville and raised in Oxnard, he is a member of the community of Mixtecs from the Mexican state of Oaxaca. Lé has loved creating art since his kindergarten teacher asked him to make a tempura painting.

Also making a tremendous impact on his life, after high school, he joined the Marines. A sergeant in an infantry division, he served two tours in and near Iraq as a machine gunner.

After he returned home, drawing and painting helped him cope with post-traumatic stress disorder and a traumatic brain injury. In particular, painting self-portraits allowed him slow down and focus on healing mentally and physically.

Through the GI Bill, Lé graduated from The Art Institute of California – Los Angeles with a bachelor’s degree in multimedia and animation. Later, he attended Cal Lutheran through the Yellow Ribbon Program and completed bachelor’s degrees in art and Spanish in 2012. With the mentorship of associate professor of art and Kwan Fong Gallery curator Michael Pearce, Lé gained an understanding of what he needed to do to become an asset to his community. In 2013 and 2014, he served as the first artist-in-residence at the Carnegie Art Museum in Oxnard.

Admission to the exhibit is free. The Kwan Fong Gallery, located in Soiland Humanities Center, is open to the public 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., Monday through Saturday. For more information, call Pearce at (805) 444-7716 or visit CalLutheran.edu/kwan_fong.

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