Los Angeles

Ofelia Esparza, California State University, Los Angeles alumna, is an esteemed and beloved artist and educator.  She has been called a “community treasure” and a “national treasure” for her many contributions to the arts, education, community, and cultural pride.  For more than 30 years, Ms. Esparza has shared her talent, time, and energy teaching traditional art forms to children and adults.  A pioneer in the Chicano movement, she brought Chicano cultural pride and understanding to school children when she began her teaching career in East Los Angeles in 1974. 

Her artistic contributions took form through her work as a painter, printmaker, and altar maker.  The community has benefited from her decades-long contributions as an art instructor, exhibiting artist, and volunteer at the historic Self Help Graphics & Art and at the Plaza de la Raza Cultural Center for Arts and Education.  Ms. Esparza’s work involving Día de Los Muertos and decorated altars maintain centuries-old customs, keep alive the memories of departed loved ones, and educate and inspire--within the Latino community and beyond.

Appreciation of Ms. Esparza’s art is not restricted to the Los Angeles Region.  Her works have been exhibited locally, nationally, and internationally, showing at The Latino Museum of History, Art and Culture, The Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Long Beach Museum of Latino Art, Orange Center of Contemporary Art, Santa Barbara Museum of Art, San Jose Heritage Plaza Art Center, The Mexican Museum San Francisco, Mexican Fine Art Museum of Chicago, Centro Cultural de Tijuana Mexico, The Glasgow Print Studio in Scotland, and many local galleries and art centers.

In recognition of her artistic work and many cultural contributions, the Board of Trustees of the California State University and California State University, Los Angeles are proud to confer upon Ofelia Esparza the honorary degree of Doctor of Humane Letters.