Evita Tezeno (b. 1960) is a Port Arthur, Texas native, and graduate of Lamar University. She lives and works in Dallas and is a mentor to young women. Tezeno's collage paintings employ richly patterned hand-painted papers and found objects in a contemporary folk-art style. Her work depicts a cast of characters in harmonious everyday scenes inspired by her family and friends, childhood memories in South Texas, personal dreams and moments from her adult life—and influenced by the great 20th century modernists Romare Bearden, Elizabeth Catlett, and William H. Johnson—scenes of joy animate her vision of a Black America filled with humanity.
As the recipient of the prestigious Elizabeth Catlett Award for The New Power Generation, Tezeno has built a career as an acclaimed multi-disciplinary female artist. Her work is included in the permanent collection of the African American Museum of Dallas and the Embassy of the Republic of Madagascar. In addition, her work has been acquired by prominent collectors, entertainers, media personalities and athletes, including Samuel L. Jackson, David Hoberman, Denzel Washington, Star Jones, and Susan Taylor, and the PIzzuti Collection, Columbus, OH, among others. She has been awarded commissions by the Essence Music Festival in New Orleans, The Deep Ellum Film Festival in Dallas, and the legendary New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival ("Jazz Fest"), where in 1999 she became the first female artist to design its celebrated poster.
Recent solo exhibitions include Better Days (2021) at Luis De Jesus Los Angeles, Los Angeles, CA; Evita Tezeno and Jas Mardis: Sharing Memories (2021) at ArtCentre of Plano, Plano, TX; Memories Create Our Yesterdays and Tomorrows (2019) at Thelma Harris Gallery, Oakland, CA; Memories That Speak To My Soul (2018) at Stella Jones Gallery, New Orleans, LA; and Thoughts of Time Gone By (2017) at Peg Alston Gallery, New York, NY.
Selected group exhibitions include Réinterprétation (2020) at C.O.A. Contemporary Art Gallery, Montreal, Canada; Phenomenal Women #UsTo (2019) at the African American Museum, Dallas, TX; Love in the Time of Hysteria (2019) at Prism Art Fair, Miami, FL; Flagrant Rules of Ensued Emancipation 2019) at John Milde Gallery, Dallas, TX; Modern Day Muse (2019) at Plano ArtCenter, Plano, TX; Arts Past & Present (2018) at George Bush Library, Dallas, TX; Daughter of Diaspora – Women of Color Speak (2018) at Hearne Fine Art, Hot Springs, AR; and New Power Generation 2012, curated by Myrtis Bedolla (Galerie Myrtis, Baltimore, MD) at Hampton University Museum, Hampton, VA.
Her work has been published and featured in numerous publications and media outlets, including Visionary Art Collective, NBC 5 - DFW (video), Document Journal, Black Art in America, Collective Arts Network Journal, The Dallas Examiner, D Magazine, Dallas Woman, North Dallas Gazette, Fort Worth Star Telegram, Dallas Morning News, Eclipse Magazine, ONYX Magazine, The Shreveport Times, and MAG-RAW Creations (video).
Evita Tezeno’s mixed media collages are folksy images crafted from colorful and patterned paper. On view are both close cropped portraits and full-bodied figures with exaggerated features who often appear in flowery fields of green, a cheerful setting that contrasts with the works’ titles. While the images pay homage to artists like Romare Bearden, Tezeno’s whimsical representations feel like fairytales filled with determined, loving and compassionate figures. Through evocative titles such as “The Soul Knows My Silence,” “My Dreams Make Me Who I Am,” and “My Life Tells Where I Have Been,” Tezeno evokes the plight and struggles of her subjects.
A few weeks ago I talked about the solo exhibition, Better Days, at Luis De Jesus Los Angeles by Dallas based artist Evita Tezeno. Her collage paintings on canvas and rag board introduce you to a variety of characters in everyday life. And what interesting characters they are…Sunday was the last day of the exhibition, and Tezeno flew to Los Angeles to hold a private reception for its closing. I asked her if the characters in her paintings are based on real people. Does she photograph them first? To my surprise, her answer was no. She paints from memory, inspired by family, friends and neighbors. For me, it was another example of how a conversation with an artist deepens the experience of their work.
Her characters possess overwhelming pride in their surroundings, their loved ones, and the attention paid to how they represent themselves. Viewing Tezeno’s lively colored work replicates a leisurely drive through a small Black town, encountering its most fascinating figures, passing by shotgun houses and acres of green landscape or leafing through an old family photo album and seeing mixed-media collage versions of beloved relatives on page after page.
Evita Tezeno's first solo exhibition in Los Angeles, Better Days, features colorful collage paintings that depict a cast of black and brown characters in harmonious and joyful everyday scenes inspired by the artist's life, memory & dreams.
As the planet enters the beginning of a post-pandemic, post-Trump administration era, it was wonderful to be baptized in optimism from Evita Tezeno’s exhibition, “Better Days” at the Luis De Jesus Los Angeles gallery. One sweeping taste of these works results in a single message: Tezeno’s unique voice reflects a masterful synthesis of several groundbreaking aesthetic approaches that pay tribute to Black culture in her use of acrylic mixed-media collage on rag paper.
Employing richly patterned hand-painted papers and found objects in a contemporary folk-art style, Evita Tezeno’s colorful collage paintings on canvas and rag board depict a cast of characters in harmonious everyday scenes. Inspired by her family and friends, childhood memories in South Texas, personal dreams and moments from her adult life—and influenced by the great 20th century modernists Romare Bearden, Elizabeth Catlett, and William H. Johnson—scenes of joy animate her vision of a Black America filled with humanity.
Tezeno uses collage and vibrant colors to tell a visual narrative of her life experiences. “I hold close the memories of days gone by. I relish the time before there were Wi-Fi, cell phones and so many other technological visual distractions,” says the artist in her statement.
Evita Tezeno and Jas Mardis speak with Good Morning Texas about their show Sharing Memories, currently on view at Art Centre of Plano.
Evita Tezeno has exhibited at the ArtCentre previously, and this time will be showcasing her Cubism-inspired collages. Evita works with handmade paper, acrylic paint and found objects. Her work has been lauded by entertainers, media personalities and professional athletes for its use of color, texture and shapes. She has been commissioned by the Essence Music Festival in New Orleans, the Deep Ellum Film Festival and the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival.
Texas native Evita Tezeno is known for her whimsical collages that capture the beauty and joy of day to day experiences. Her mixed media depictions of Black women, men, and children are inspired by moments from her own life as well as children’s stories. Through her work, Evita seeks to inspire the viewer and bring laughter to the lives of others.
Evita Tezeno is a collage artist who spends about 12-hours a day, 6-days a week inside her Dallas art studio working on her latest project; a 19-piece collection of collages inspired by the pandemic. "It's called 'Daughters of the Crown'," Tezeno said, pointing out the 'corona' means crown. "I was sketching one night and looking at the news, and it just came to me."Each piece features the same character, depicted with different aspects of living in a pandemic."I chose a Black woman to represent that," Tezeno said. "It's very personal. It's very personal. I had an artist friend that perished because of COVID."
Tezeno’s work consists of collages with cubist influences. Her bold use of color, texture and shape are the core of her collages. Inspired by the images that she sees in her sleep, Evita translates these visions through mixed media, combining handmade paper, acrylic paint and found objects. Pulling from experiences and children’s stories, she creates whimsical images that provoke laughter and thought to help enrich the soul.
My work is about emotions. And emotions have no ethnicity. So my figures may represent my Blackness in all the different hues I use in my work, but still people of all ethnicities see my work and they can identify with it. Sometimes, I’ve listened to non-brown people say, ‘Oh, Black work is so controversial. It intimidates me.’ But I just had a showing at my studio, and I had mostly caucasian Americans come, and they were all piled in my studio, gathering around my work saying, ‘Oh my goodness, I feel so much joy, I am so happy!’ And this is what I try to convey in my work. I want to bring joy, I want to bring happiness.
Evita Tezeno seeks the pleasures of life through the eyes of visual expression. Her exuberant passion for life leads her to explore the human experiences related to her childhood memories and life’s encounters. Using bright colors soft hues, and bold figures, Tezeno crafted visual stories, by the use of hand made papers, crayons and other mediums, that evoke smiles, joy and thoughts of yesteryears.”
Another artist involved in the exhibit is Evita Tezeno. “Black female artists are not represented in the community like everyone else is,” she said. “It is more of a male-dominated society. This exhibit is a marvelous vehicle to show what we are made of as a Black female artist.” Tezeno is a print maker and collage artist and has created artwork such as I Am Somebody, which depicts a strong female who has been through a lot.
Talking with Evita Tezeno feels like the first day of spring after a long, dismal winter. Even though she’s been earning a living through her art since the 80s, she talks about her life, her journey, and her art with the enthusiasm and excitement of a new artist fresh on the scene. Her calm energy and smooth storytelling make an interview feel like a conversation between friends.
"I know being an arist is going to be uncomforatable, " says Tezeno, who lived in a warehouse and cooked on a hot plate. "I will live in a cave if I have to. There is nothing in the world that I want more than to be a great artist. Tezeno says women are normally not as aggressive as their male counterparts; her determination has helped her survive ten years in male-dominated industry. She's quickly becoming one of the most recognized names in the art world, and has been comissioned to do a number of festival posters including New Orleans Jazz festival.