John Jota Leaños is a social art practitioner and Assistant Professor of Social Documentation at the University of Californa, Santa Cruz where he teaches courses on the politics of culture, new media and social documentation. His practice includes a range of film, animation, public art, installation, new media and performance focusing on the convergence of memory, social space and decolonization. Central to Leaños' art practice and cultural work lies the investigation of the documentary as a transformative discursive system where subaltern histories, untold stories and decolonial perspectives arise in fictional and non-ficional forms. His research explores the slippery slope of the documentary within the discursive spaces of the public sphere, media outlets, the virtual sphere, the museum and gallery.
Leaños' animated films have been shown internationally at festivals and museums including the Sundance 2010 Film Festival, the Mill Valley Film Festival '07, Cannes Short Corner '07. France, WILDsound Film Festival '08, Toronto, San Francisco International Festival of Animation, SF, Arizona International Film Festival '07, the KOS Convention '07, and the Museum of Contemporary Art, San Diego.
Leaños' installation work has been exhibited at the Whitney Museum of American Art's 2002 Whitney Biennial, Art in General in New York City, the Oakland Museum, Olimpio Cultural Center, Merdida, Mexico, San Francisco Art Commission Gallery, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Galería de la Raza, and Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco.
His multimedia Mariachi opera, "Imperial Silence: Una Ópera Muerta/A Dead Opera in Four Acts" has been staged at various venues including The Museum of Contemprary Art, Chicago (2012), the Museo del Barrio, New York, The World Theater, Monterey, and The Luckman Fine Arts Center, Los Angeles. Leaños' ofther performance work has been shown at San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA), Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) in Los Angeles, the Galería de la Raza as well as several universities, including Brown University, Carnegie Mellon University, University of Texas, University of San Francisco, University of California, San Diego, and Arizona State University.
Leaños is a Creative Capital Foundation Grantee and has been an artist in residence at the University of California, Santa Barbara in the Center for Chicano Studies, Carnegie Mellon University in the Center for Arts in Society, and the Headlands Center for the Arts. Leaños was an Assistant Professor of Chicana/o Studies at Arizona State University from 2003-2007 and an Assistant Professor of Social Practices and Community Arts at the California College of the Arts from 2007-2009. His recent projects have been funded by the Creative Capital Foundation Grant, the MAP Fund, the Creative Work Fund Award, and the Irvine Creative Connections Grant.
"Public Pedagogy and Cæsura" in Handbook of Public Pedagogy: Education and Learning Beyond Edited by Jennifer A. Sandlin, Brian D. Schultz and Jake Burdick. Routledge, 2010.
"Dead Conversations on Art and Politics" in Filming Difference: Actors, Directors, Producers and Writers on Gender, Race and Sexuality in Film. Edited by Daniel Bernardi. University of Texas, 2009.
"Art Education in the Age of NeoConvervatism" in Knowledge and Power in the Global Economy: The Effects of School Reform in a Neoliberal/NeoConservative Age. Co-written with Anthony J. Villareal. Editor David Gabbard. Lawrence Eribaum, 2007.