16.2 Cover Artist

by Ludmila Leiva

Given I was born suspended between worlds—the mixed daughter of a Guatemalan mother and a Slovak father—my entire life has been an attempt to understand my place. In the past, listening to Armando Manzanerotapes or flipping through my grandfather’s dusty poetry books has helped me begin to close in on an answer, but still I find myself asking: Where do I belong?

I spent my childhood between a coastal mountain town near Vancouver, Canada and a small suburb of Seattle—thousands of miles away from my ancestral homelands. Having spent most of my life feeling untethered, I have dedicated myself to interrogating some of the subjects that haunt me: queerness, femininity, diaspora, and trauma.

As an artist, my work is an unearthing of myself that calls upon the memories of my ancestors’ dreams—scattered from the backs of horses across the verdant valleys of Honduras, Guatemala, or pressed into the damp earth of WWII refugee camps in Eastern Europe.

Today, I live and work in Brooklyn, New York. My artistic practice evolves with the seasons, but my work is currently focused on storytelling through both visual art and prose. No matter the medium, I use art to explore themes of objectification, unbelonging, isolation, and colonization. I am particularly interested in examining the ways that women of color move through society.

Through my creative practice, I seek to interrogate and confront trauma and memory. Above all else, my artistic practice is an act of healing and resistance—a ritual that investigates the forgotten and overlooked mythologies of those who, like me, have wondered if and where they truly belong.

Ludmila Leiva is a multidisciplinary artist. Born in Toronto, Canada to a Guatemalan mother and a Slovak-Canadian father, she currently lives in Brooklyn, New York with her partner and many houseplants. Her writing can be found in Wired, The New York Times’ Women in the World, Broadly, Allure, Refinery29, and more. Her previous illustration clients include Tumblr, Vice, and Condé Nast. Ludmila is a 2018 Lambda Literary fellow in fiction and is currently working on a collection of short stories. She is also creative directing a virtual reality experience that explores memory and healing, forthcoming in 2020.