Celia Herrera Rodríguez (Xicana/O’dami) is a painter, performance and installation artist whose work reflects a full generation of dialogue with Chicano, Native American, Pre-Columbian, and Mexican thought.  She is  the co-founder and co-director of Las Maestras Center for Xicana[x] Indigenous Thought, Art and Social Practice at UCSB, where she also teaches Chicana[x] Art History and Studio Practice in the Department of Chicano & Chicana Studies.   

Originally from Sacramento, California, Herrera Rodríguez received her B.A in Art & Ethnic Studies from CSU-Sacramento and a M.F.A in painting from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign.  In 1987, she went on to study Art History, Theory and Criticism at the Art Institute of Chicago.  In her five-year tenure in Chicago, she exhibited extensively and became involved in installation and performance art. 

In the mid-1990s she returned to California, where she made Oakland her home. Since 2005, she had been a Senior Adjunct Professor in Diversity Studies at California College of the Arts and for seventeen years also taught in the Chicano Studies Program at UC Berkeley. Her courses included: Chicana/o and Mexican Modernist Art, MeXicana/o and Indigenous Art History and Practice, as well as studio art classes.  She has also held appointments at Stanford University, UC Santa Cruz, and the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.

Her paintings, drawings and installation work have been exhibited nationally, including: The Triton Museum, Santa Clara, CA; Glass Curtain Gallery at Columbia College of Chicago; CN Gorman Museum, UC-Davis; The DeSaisset Museum at Santa Clara University; The Institute of American Indian Art Museum in Santa Fe; The Oakland Museum of California; Tufts University Gallery (Medford, MA); The Mexican Museum of San Francisco; C.A.G.E. Gallery (Cincinnati, OH); and, Name Gallery (Chicago).

She has also shown Internationally at the University of Cork (Ireland), The Centro Cultural Santo Domingo (Oaxaca, México), the Centro Colombo Americano (Medellin, Colombia) among others. Her work is permanently housed in a number of private and public collections, including the Mexican Fine Arts Center Museum in Chicago, and the Institute of American Indian Art Museum of Santa Fe.

In the mid-90s, Herrera began to perform with many of her installations as stagings. In her performances, the cultural symbology of her paintings moves into the three-dimensional world of MeXicana and Indigenous history. In recent years, she has applied her vision as a conceptual artist to set and costume design, chiefly in collaboration with playwright, Cherríe Moraga. Herrera’s design work includes: The Hungry Woman(Stanford University); La Semilla Caminante(Intersection for the Arts, San Francisco); Digging Up the Dirt(Breath of Fire Theater, Santa Ana); and New Fire — To Put Things Right Again(Brava Theater, San Francisco). In 2011, a series of her line drawings were published in Moraga’s latest collection of essays: A Xicana Codex of Changing Consciousness, published by Duke University Press.

Recent visual art projects include “Making Ohlone Visible” a 2018-19 collaborative project with the Chochenyo–Ohlone community in Oakland, CA; and the collaborative PerformaProtesta, “Un llanto Colectivo, a shared ceremonial political outcry, opposing ICE & its brutal border policies (San Diego, 2018).

Currently on exhibit:  Xicanx Futurity at the Manetti-Shrem Museum of Art, UC Davis.


4720 South Hall

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Mailing Address:
Department of Chicana and Chicano Studies
1713 South Hall
University of California, Santa Barbara
Santa Barbara, CA 93106-4120