Carlos Villa

Carlos Villa

Fellow: Awarded 2012
Field of Study: Fine Arts

Competition: US & Canada

San Francisco Art Institute

I was born in 1936 in San Francisco, California. In 1957 my first art lesson was with Leo Valledor, who encouraged the study of Late Matisse etchings. Since 1958 my work has been displayed in twenty-six community actions, forty solo exhibitions and installations, and seventy-five selected group exhibitions. I received my B.F.A. degree (Education) from the San Francisco Art Institute and my M.F.A. degree (Painting) from Mills College, Oakland, California. I have taught full-time at the San Francisco Art Institute since 1969.

I have exhibited work made from oil and acrylic paints, aluminum, steel, bronze, wood, feathers, blood, mirrors, fiber, and found objects. As a cultural worker and organizer, my actions have been applied directly to community(s). Those ideas have been contextualized and documented as symposia, teaching, collaboration, performances, installations and arts-administration actions. This work has contributed to mainstream art-world dialogues, Filipino American art history, art, and artists-of-color, Asian American art, and actions affirming my Filipino American heritage.


In retrospect, art-making allowed me a way to experience life and to ask and construct crucial questions along the way.

“For nearly fifty years Carlos Villa has explored the meaning of cultural diversity in his art and in doing so has expanded our awareness of what we consider as ‘multicultural.’ What began in his early career as an attempt to understand his own heritage—a complexity of Filipino traditions with its layered strains of Asian, African, Indian and Oceanic cultures, along with influences of a Western artistic tradition—became over time an exercise in creating his own visual anthropology to represent his personal background, and, in a broader sense, the dynamics of intercultural weaving.”

– Preston Fletcher, Carlos Villa: A Poet of Visual Metaphor


Scroll to Top