Amado Peña is a painter and printmaker who was born in Laredo, Texas, in 1943 and currently living in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Of Mexican and Indian descent, Peña received his BA from Texas A & I University in 1965 and taught high school art. After military service, he obtained his Master’s in 1971 and moved to Cristal, Texas, where he was an art consultant. His exposure as an artist was through the political movement. When he became head of the Austin high school art department, he directed his art toward a broader significance. By 1978, he found that the art career was more demanding than that of teaching. Today, he continues to teach as part of the Studio Art League program at Alexander High School in Laredo and is also an adjunct professor in the College of Education at the University of Texas. As well, he has been a presenter at many national education conferences.
A well-known Southwest painter Amado Peña gathers inspiration from Native American culture. The geometric shapes and patterns, and southwest landscape fill his artwork. His body of work features his iconic gazing figures, showcases elements of his native culture and traditions while also sharing universal truths. These elements are represented through symbolic patterns and vibrant colors.
Amado is a Mestizo of Mexican and Yaqui ancestry. His art celebrates the strength of a people who meet the harsh realities of life in an uncompromising land, and his work is a tribute to the Native Americans who survive by living in harmony with an adversarial, untamed environment. Quiet, ever silent, strong, the figures stand against the stark landscape and contrast against the bold patterns placed on his surfaces.
His artwork is inspired by places such as Canyon de Chelly, Spider Rock, Monument Valley, Enchanted Mesa, Acoma, and Black Mesa. These sites are part of an enduring landscape that speaks of the ancient heritage of a region that is now known as Arizona and New Mexico.
Peña has his studio and house in Santa Fe where he states, “I can get away from all that’s going on. I know that emotionally and physically being in another environment makes a change in how I wake up in the morning.” He says his strong love of the culture and landscape of the American Southwest is synthesized in his work.
Amado's artwork is defined by its bold color and form and dynamic composition. Through his art, he communicates his vision of a land, its people and their art.
Amado Peña is recognized as an Artisan of the Pascua Yaqui Tribe of Arizona. This is a particularly high honor and one that he cherishes. He is dedicated to furthering the public's knowledge and interest in the Tribe, its art, its history, and its culture.