Lys Santamaria

Contemporary Beadwork Artist, Lys Santamaria, is best known for her labor-intensive portraits that transform thousands of tiny beads into expressive and colorful mosaics. Santamaria believes that artwork can heal the artist, the viewer, and the world. Her work is focused on shedding light onto people, events and experiences are often underrepresented in popular culture. Her mission is to transform traditional beadwork by creating innovative contemporary pieces.

Santamaria’s work was most recently showcased at the Austin Bergstrom International Airport and is part of the permanent collection at Mexic-Arte Museum. Santamaria is a recent graduate of the nationally recognized Artist, INC art business program.

Born in Colombia and raised in Canada/USA, she now lives and works from her home studio in Austin, Texas.

What does "Chingonx" mean to you?

I sometimes feel detached from this word as “chingona” is not something that we use in Colombian Spanish.  However, as I’ve learned more about this word, I see the power that it holds. It is a statement of strength and fierceness that exists within us all.  

What does intersectional feminism mean to you?

Inclusivity is what it’s about for me.  It’s about understanding that feminism needs to be mindful of the different types of people and experiences that are often underrepresented or unseen by the majority culture.

How does activism show up in your work?

Activism shows up in a very subtle way in my work.  I choose to represent my background and my experiences – and that usually is about being a woman of color.  I enjoy representing diversity and creating an open and safe way to talk about experiences that are often hard to bring up.

Sample Work