Leah Perez is a curator based in Los Angeles, California. She holds a BA in Contemporary Latino and Latin American Studies from the University of Southern California. She is currently pursuing her MA in Curatorial Studies at the Roski School of Art and Design. Her curatorial interests lie at the intersection of art and ethnic culture, specifically contemporary and historical aesthetics of Black and brown communities in Los Angeles. Perez is interested in challenging the precarious definition of Latinidad, thereby prioritizing decolonial practices emphasizing queer, indigenous, Black, and brown Latinxs in the United States. Embracing the aesthetics of rasquache as a visual language of U.S. Latinxs, imagery that in a colonial context is referred to as chunti, or naco, Perez considers how brown and Black artists use their bodies to engage with issues of labor, machismo, homophobia. Through performance and body art, Perez is interested in engaging with how the criminalization of Black and brown bodies works in a context of Julia Kristeva’s definition of abjection.
Perez recently curated artist José Guadalupe Sánchez II for the UTA Artist Space virtual show entitled In Cahoots: Artists and Curators at USC Roski. Sánchez’s multi-media paintings and video recordings engage with mourning, loss, and forgiveness, investigating how brown men deal with grief, in light of his own father’s passing. In collaboration with Roski alumna, Ana Briz she co-authored Giving Image to an Afro–Future with Lauren Halsey for Flash Art Magazine.