Mexican-American Biologist Explores Identity Through Painting

Tuscaloosa. — The University of Alabama Department of Art and Art History is pleased to presentJuan López-Bautista, "Caravans of Reflections," acrylic on panel, 2018, 12 x 16 inches. Image courtesy of the artist. The Immigrant Life, the master of arts exhibition of Juan López-Bautista, April 4-11, 2019, in the Sella-Granata Art Gallery on UA campus. The public is invited to a reception for the artist, Monday, April 8, 5-8 pm.

Juan López-Bautista has interwoven issues of identity, contemporary political reality and the natural world into his art. He writes,

My artwork explores the search for a Mexican-American self-identity. The journey that I undertook to become a visual artist includes the personal and social challenges that I face as an immigrant. I find resonance between my artwork and the divided political discourse of today. Organic forms are used in my mixed media paintings to signify the threads of the fabric of our society. The resulting matrices are metaphors for the strengths and gaps of the many layers that form our American culture. I envision my abstract paintings as human landscapes, where issues of race, separation, injustice, survival, resilience and pursuit of happiness, occupy the same pictorial space. 

Juan López-Bautista, "Lifeless Shrubland,"acrylic and paper on panel, 2018, 12 x 16 inches. Image courtesy of the artist. Juan López-Bautista, "Transient Landscape," Acrylic and Paper on Linen, 2018, 18 x 24 inches. Image courtesy of the artist. Juan López-Bautista, "Desert Crossing," acrylic and paper on panel, 2018, 12 x 12 inches. Image courtesy of the artist.

López-Bautista has a PhD in plant biology from Louisiana State University and a MS in biology from the University of North Carolina Wilmington. He has taught for a decade in UA’s department of biology. His scientific research focuses on the biodiversity, systematics and phylogenomics of marine and terrestrial algae. His most recent project, funded by the National Science Foundation, is the assembling of the tree of life for green and red algae. He teaches courses in the biology of algae, plant biology and advanced phycology. Before entering the MFA program in studio art, he took courses in painting at LSU and at UA. In 2018, he had a solo exhibition at the Ayers LRC Art Gallery in Anniston, Ala., and has exhibited work in the UA Graduate Student Exhibition in 2018 and 2017. He has shown his work at Highland Coffees Gallery in Baton Rouge, La., and the Charles Saucier Gallery in New Orleans, among others.

For more information about the UA Department of Art and Art History and its programs, visit this link: or contact the department at (205) 348-5967. 

Funding support for the Sella-Granata Art Gallery comes from the Department of Art and Art History and the College of Arts and Sciences. Admission to the gallery is always free.

Hours are Monday through Wednesday 9:00 a.m.- 5:00 p.m., Thursday 9 a.m.-8 p.m., Friday 10 a.m.-2 p.m. The gallery is located at 109 Woods Hall in the heart of the UA campus on Woods Quad. Information about visitor parking is available here: For more information, contact the gallery at (205) 348-2783 or go to