Luis De La Torre arrived in Chicago’s neighborhood of Bridgeport at the age of seven. Although he had spent most of his childhood in the states of Jalisco and Nayarít in western Mexico, he was actually born in McAllen, Texas, near the U.S.–Mexico border in 1969. These early years may continue to unconsciously inspire the work of this accomplished and dedicated artist. While his paintings and illustrations do not appear to be overtly Mexican on the surface, many of the ancient Mexican concepts of life and symbols of faith and power continue to appear among his many layers of imagery.

De La Torre’s work expresses the many dualities the artist experiences in his own life. Like the artist, who grew up Mexican in the heart of the U.S. Midwest, his paintings reveal two cultures, two histories, and two distinct worlds fused together into a single enigmatic hallucination. The dreamlike scenes De La Torre often represents hail from the diverse lands that fuel his imagination – the real and the subconscious, the urban and the mythical. De La Torre feeds his muse a diet of U.S. pop culture, current world events, and rituals that mimic ancient ceremonies, then starves her with his own sleep deprivation exercises to see what she reveals. Like an archaeologist, he digs far down into his weary conscience in order to unearth metaphors from the past into the present.

As a former student of the late watercolorist, Irving Shapiro (1927-1994), and a graduate of the American Academy of Art (1994) in Chicago, Luis De La Torre’s approach to making art is based within a classical academic tradition. He has worked on restoring the gilding at the historic Auditorium Theatre of Roosevelt University and the Illinois and Iowa State Capital Buildings and participated in the Frank Lloyd Wright House “Wing Spread” restoration project in Racine, Wisconsin. His knowledge and appreciation of the humanities, sciences and other disciplines of human achievement have become essential in his approach and artistic expression. History, geography, and philosophy are folded into the observations De La Torre makes on canvas alongside war, consumerism, and what he sees as the corporate commercialization of contemporary life.

Much of this artist’s work seems to spring from his observations as a sort of traveler in this country. His point of view is informed by literature, by what he has learned of past civilizations, and what he retains of his own ancient culture. Luis De La Torre continues in this way to draw inspiration from his deep roots – both indigenous Mexican and Christian. His art continues to evolve as he walks through the sequence of chapters in his artistic career, and although his art now mostly belongs to urban America, his visual language still contains an accent of someone from a far off land. Luis De La Torre has remained acutely aware that he has been transplanted to this life in the U.S. and he therefore struggles to recall lessons from the past. When pressed to describe his own work, the artist explains, “The essence of my art is a combination of creativity, persistence and a civic consciousness resulting in art that speaks of universal issues affecting us all.”

Cesáreo Moreno

Visual Arts Coordinator

National Museum of Mexican Art

Artist statement


Embedded with humor and keen observation, my work echoes and references the contemporary landscapes, both physical and political that I exist in. Accessing icons and symbols from my Mexican roots, I have created my own contemporary codex that is concerned with patterns both on and off the canvas and celebrates the ephemeral nature of our existence.

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Curriculum vitae


Born McAllen TX 1969

Living/working in Chicago IL 1976-present  


1991 - 1994 American Academy of Art, Chicago

Professional Experience

Teaching Artist for Project AIM @Columbia College, Chicago, IL 2017-present 

Teaching Artist for Changing Worlds, Chicago, IL 9/2016 – present 

Resident Artist at Gary Elementary School, Chicago, IL 6/2013 - present

Teaching Artist at ElevArte Community Studio 2/2010 – present

Resident Artist at Spry/Community Links H.S. Chicago, IL 2006 – present 

Resident Artist at Columbia Explorer Elementary Chicago, IL 2008-2011

Redesign and restoration of Providence of God Church, Chicago 9/2010-1/2011

Set design for Teatro Vistas production of “Dreamlandia” 3/08

Visual Panels for “Another Part of the House” a Teatro Vista production 9/06

Mosaic mural for Columbia Explorer Elementary, Chicago, IL with Yollocalli Youth Museum

Mural backdrop for Luna Negra Dance Theater “Quincenera”-Harris Theater for the performing arts, Chicago

MFACM Youth out reach workshop At Holy Cross Parrish – Chicago, IL 3/05 – 5/05

Triptych Art Workshop-Mexican Fine Arts Center Museum-Chicago, IL 10/2004

Solo and two person exhibits

10/16 – Contemporary Codex, Presidents Gallery, Chicago State University, Chicago, IL

9/16 - The Crossings, The Art Center Highland Park, Highland Park, IL

10/12 – “Growing Roots/Hechando Raíces”, Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum, Chicago, IL

10/10 – “Paths and Process” – Chicago State University – Chicago, IL

10/09 – “Welcome to the Holy Land” solo exhibit UCC Latino Arts Inc – Milwaukee WN

9/08 -  “Observations” solo exhibit Dorothy Thiel Gallery, SSC, South Holland, IL

5/08 - Chicago Latin American Art Fair, Ogilvie/Pertl Gallery-Chicago, IL

10/07 – “Abstract Global Expression” Neleh Gallery, Chicago, IL

12/06 – “Fragments of a Dream” La Llorona, Art Gallery Chicago, IL

9/02 - “Mapping the Soul, the Other Side of the Exploration” Solo Exhibit, La Llorona Gallery-Chicago IL

Selected group exhibits

9/17 – Center Program exhibit, Hyde Park Art Center, Chicago, IL 

12/16 – “Not Just Another Pretty Face” Hyde Park Art Center, Chicago, IL

5/16 - Continuous Span: New Work from The Bridge Program, Hyde Park Art Center, Chicago, IL 

1/16 – Latino Art of the Midwest: Into the 21st Century, Curated by Judith Huacuja, University of Dayton, Dayton, Ohio 

9/14 – Autumn 2014 Invitational Exhibit, Aurora Public Atrs Commission, Aurora, IL

3/13 – “Mexican Montage” Group Exhibit. Urban Edge Gallery, Waukegan, IL

1/13 - “Signature Series” recent acquisitions, Mexican Museum of Mexican Art, Chicago, IL

10/12 - “Will to Power” Bridgeport Art Center, Chicago Il. (Curator)

11/10 – “Not Just Another Pretty Face” Hyde Park Art Center, Chicago, IL

10/10 – Metaphors and Symbolism, Kankakee Community College, Kankakee, IL

1/09 – “Chicago Figurativo” NMMA, Chicago, IL

10/08 – “Not Just Another Pretty Face” Hyde Park Art Center, Chicago, IL

6/08 – “Reforming US: Immigration Through Art, Crown Center Gallery Loyola University, Chicago, IL

9/08 – “Latino Nation, USA, Curated by Encarnacion Teruel, Carbondale, IL

10/07 – “Shrine Exhibit” group show Owings-Dewey Gallery, Santa Fe NM

10/07 – “Dia de Los Muertos” exhibit UCC Latino Arts inc.  Milwaukee WI

9/06 -  “Rooted in Tradition XX” 20th Anniversary Dia de Los Muertos exhibit MFACM, Chicago. IL

6/06 –  “Black and White” group show FlatFile Gallery, Chicago Il

10/05 – Dia de Los Muertos Group exhibit UCC Latino Arts – Milwaukee WN

09/05 – Dia de Los Muertos: A Journey Home Group show MFACM, Chicago

04/05 – In The Shadow of the Surreal & Exquisite Corpse-Flatfile Galleries, Chicago, IL

09/04 – Dia de los Muertos group show, UCC Latino Arts – Milwaukee WN

09/04 – Día de los Muertos: Tribute & Tradition-Group Show- MFACM

09/04 – Small Wonders Exhibit – Ogilvie/Pertl Gallery-Chicago, IL

09/04 – Contemporary Hispanic Painting - Krasel Art Center-St. Joseph, MI

06/04 – “War & Peace Collaborative Exhibit” Gallery 415, Chicago Juried by Ed Paschke

10/03 - Artistas de Taller Meztizarte en Chicago “Dia de los muertos” Au studio del Ermitage, Paris FR

10/03 – Artistas de Taller Mestizarte en Chicago “ Dia De Los Muertos” Galleria Indigo, Oaxaca, MX

10/03 -Dia de los Muertos Exhibit at the Centro Cultural de la Raza, Group Show, Seattle, WA

10/03 - Dia de los Muertos Ofrenda Exhibit at Latino Arts Inc., Group Show - Milwaukee

5/03 – Arizona State University, Latino Art Auction and Symposia

11/02 – Tavern Club Chicago IL “Celebrating Diversity” juried group show

9/02 – Mexican Fine Art Center Museum, Chicago IL – “Dia de los Muertos” – Group Show

Selected Public and Private collections

National Museum of Mexican Art Chicago, IL 

Greater Milwaukee Foundation  Milwaukee, WN 

Latinos Arts Inc. – Milwaukee, WN

Hispanic Research Center at Arizona State University

Dr. Gilberto Cárdenas

Mr. Patric McCoy

Mr. Daniel Parker 

Ms. Kim Duchossois 

Mrs. Lisa McDonald 

Ms. Lila Downs

Awards and Highlights

2017 Center Program, Hyde Park Art Center, Chicago, IL

2016 Bridge program, Hyde Park Art Center, Chicago, IL

2015 Starry Night Artist Residency, Truth or Consequences, NM

2012 Selection committee for CAAP grant

2009 Nominated for 3Arts grant

2009 Chicago Artist Month Advisory Board

2009 CAAP grant recipient

2006 Illinois Arts Council, Special Assistant Grant

Published in “Triumph of our community”, four decades of Mexican-Americans in the arts” Gary D. Keller, Bilingual press

2002 CAAP grant recipient

2001 Honorable mention Museum of Science and Industry – Latino Horizons Juried Show