About Monica Leal Cueva

Mónica Leal Cueva is a visual artist based in Los Angeles. Born in Mexico into a passionately artistic family, she was exposed to a wide range of artistic expression from early childhood. Her father, a trio guitarist, introduced her to the deep romanticism of bolero music, and her mother, an accomplished painter, showed her the wonders of the classical masters. Her family’s bohemian poetry-reading evenings further stroked her fascination with the fundamental unity of the creative process through word, sound or color, and her constant traveling through Mexico imbued her with the subtle sensibility of its traditional and modern arts, which blend a direct, unflinching look at what it is to be human with a subtle, even tender surrealism and love of fantasy.

Majoring in Communications in her native Monterrey and further studying in Cornell University, she first focused on the written word, engaging in non-fiction writing for children and teaching creative literature workshops. She moved to California in 2006 to professionally hone her self-taught skills in photography, illustration, drawing and painting, eventually settling at Tom Wudl Studio, where she currently creates her personal art in conversation with Tom Wudl and other L.A. artists.

She developed her mixed-media style as a reflection of her experience of the translatability of expression: the relations between form and color which can lift a veil behind the world; a kind of magic she first found in poetry and music and which she translates into visual art. 

Paper on light, collage on wood and poetic passages from music she loves find a secret association to images found in folk art or modern photography. Mónica then intends to become a finder of secrets, of hidden relations. Her art wonders at the silver thread between an inner dream and the dreams of others where words and images come together and expand in dark, endless spaces. 

She does not to conform to one material: the multiplicity of her technique is as much the essence of her statement as are the images themselves, which create stories of recognition, separation and reconstruction.

In her art, Mónica strives to visually create the drama of being on the edge of recognition of a truth. She looks for the illumination that suddenly appears in dark corners and glimpsed, unstable images. Hers are frozen moments of this sudden, fleeting realization. Hers are secrets on display.


2019 X, The Colburn School, Los Angeles, CA

2019 Participated in ArtShare’s XXI Anniversary Auction Show, ArtShare Gallery, Los Angeles, CA

2018 - 2019 Variations, The Colburn School, Los Angeles, CA

2018 StudioEleven At Work, Pete and Susan Barrett Gallery, Santa Monica, CA

2018 Exhibit L.A., ArtShareLA Gallery, Los Angeles, CA

2017 StudioEleven at the Neutra, The Neutra Institute Museum and Gallery, Los Angeles, CA

2016 StudioEleven at the Ebell, Wilshire Ebell, Los Angeles, CA

2016 Que Ves? by ArtShareLA, Los Angeles, CA

2015 - 2016 Coda, The Colburn School, Los Angeles, CA

2015 Secret Specimens, Lois Lambert Gallery, Santa Monica, CA

2015 Public and Private Codes, StudioEleven Gallery, Los Angeles, CA

2014 Location!, ArtShare LA Gallery, Los Angeles, CA


2019, Searching for Our Lady de Guadalupe, Personal Photo Projects Presentation, LEICA Gallery, West Hollywood, CA

2019 Digital Collage, My Story and Method, Presentation for Digital Lab Artists, ECF Exceptional Children’s Foundation, Los Angeles, CA


2019 Tijuana Zine Fest
2019 Los Angeles Zine Fest
2019 Joshua Tree Zine Fest

2018 Joshua Tree Zine Fest
2018 Tijuana Zine Fest
2018 San Diego Zine Fest
2018 Long Beach Zine Fest


2019 Risography Workshop with Tiny Splendor
2019 Photographic Vision, with Nancy Kaye at American Jewish University
2018 Photographic Essay, with Nancy Kaye at Santa Monica College