Leandra Urrutia was born and raised in San Antonio, Texas, and began drawing and sculpting at an early age. Urrutia is influenced by the rich culture and traditions of her Mexican-American heritage. In particular, artifacts and folklore surrounding Dr. Aureliano Urrutia, a controversial and legendary San Antonian, inspired an interest in the figure that continues to this day. Urrutia is a three-dimensional specialist who works predominately in clay. Her art addresses balance in regard to intimacy, attraction, repulsion, aging, and perseverance. Her building expertise ranges from trompe l’oeil to abstraction, with technical proficiencies that encompass image transfer and module making. A committed educator, Urrutia has worked extensively with Zark Strasburger to co-create a unique content-centric experience titled Idea, Process, and Criticism(IPC). This ideation course has been the subject of presentations to faculty and various academic colleagues across the country at conferences that include the Association of Independent Colleges of Art and Design (AICAD) and the Mid-America College Art Association (MACAA).
Urrutia exhibits her work nationally and internationally. In 2007, she was designated an Emerging Artist by the National Council for the Education of Ceramic Arts (NCECA) in Louisville, Kentucky. In 2014, she was the recipient of the Emmett O’Ryan Award for Artistic Inspiration in Memphis, Tennessee. Her work is included in the Sanford M. and Diane Besser collection and is part of the Kinsey Institute’s permanent collection. Additionally, the Lark Ceramic books, 500 Figures in Clayand 500 Ceramic Sculptures, contain samples of her pieces.
Urrutia is one of the co-founding American members of the Studio Nong Collective, an ongoing international residency comprised of artists and educators invested in creative and cultural exchange. She is Associate Professor of Studio Art and teaches beginning, intermediate, and advanced courses in clay sculpture and idea development. She has been serving the Memphis College of Art community since 2002. She holds a BFA in drawing and ceramics from Southwest Texas State University, and an MFA in ceramics from the University of Mississippi.