Biographical / Historical
Nora Chapa Mendoza (1932-) is a painter and educator in Detroit, Michigan.
Mendoza was born to Mexican parents in Weslaco, Texas. Raised in the American Southwest, Nora was encouraged at an early age to pursue her interest in painting, and in 1953 she relocated from Galveston, Texas to Michigan to pursue a career as an artist. Mendoza studied art at the Detroit Center for Creative Studies and Madonna University in Livonia, Michigan. Her art education included instruction from Michigan painters Richard Koslow and Ljubo Biro. In 1978, Mendoza, along with a group of other artists formed Nuestras Artes de Michigan, with chapters established in Ann Arbor, Detroit, and Lansing. She was also a founding member of the Michigan Hispanic Cultural/Art Association. In In 1981, she opened her own art gallery in Detroit, Galeria Mendoza.
While Mendoza's painting styles have ranged from abstraction to realism, messages of civil rights and Chicano identity have been a constant throughout her career as an artist. As an artist and activist, there is a strong connection between the subject matter of her art and the causes she has been active in including migrant workers and fair labor practices, as well as issues of indigenous identity and civil rights. Nora Mendoza is also a certified elder in Kanto de la Tierra, an intertribal council dedicated to praying for earth's healing.
Later in her career Nora Chapa Mendoza expanded her practice from painting to include restoration and mural projects. Notably she was one of eight artists that participated in the renovation of Detroit's Music Hall in 1996. In 1999 she was named Michigan's artist of the year and received the Governor's award for her continued service to Michigan and Southwest Detroit in particular. Nora Chapa Mendoza has exhibited throughout the United States and internationally, and her work is included in many prominent private, corporate, and university collections. Mendoza continues to live and work in West Bloomfield, Michigan, just outside of Detroit, where she continues to teach art workshops and other outreach activities.