Peruvian-American, b. 1962, Lima, Peru
lives and works in Philadelphia, PA

Kukuli Velarde is a Peruvian-American artist who specializes in painting and ceramic sculptures made out of clay and terra-cotta. Velarde focuses on the themes of gender and the consequences of colonization in Latin American contemporary culture. Her ceramic work is a visual investigation of aesthetics, cultural survival, and inheritance.

Velarde has had multiple solo exhibitions, most recently including Kukuli Velarde: The Complicit Eye at Taller Puertorriqueño (Philadelphia, PA), Kukuli Velarde at AMOCA (Pomona, CA), and Plunder Me, Baby at Peters Project Gallery (Santa Fe, NM). Her work may also be found in numerous public institutions, including the Museum of Fine Arts (Houston, TX), the John Michael Kohler Arts Center (Sheboygan, WI), and the Museo de Art Contemporaneo de Lima, (Lima, Peru).

Velarde is the recipient of numerous grants, including a John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship, a Pollock Krasner Foundation Grant, a United States Artists Knight Fellowship, and a PEW Fellowship in Visual Art. She was awarded the Grand Prize for her work exhibited at the Gyeonggi International Ceramic Biennale in Icheon, South Korea. Velarde holds a BFA (magna cum laude) from Hunter College of the University of New York. Velarde lives and works in Philadelphia, PA.


I am a Peruvian-American artist. My work, which revolves around the consequences of colonization in Latin American contemporary culture, is a visual investigation about aesthetics, cultural survival, and inheritance. I focus on Latin American history, particularly that of Perú, because it is the reality with which I am familiar. I do so, convinced that its complexity has universal characteristics and any conclusion can be understood beyond the frame of its uniqueness.

Kukuli Velarde, “Speak Spanish, Yo Hablo Inglés”, 2021, oil on stretched canvas and wood panel substrate, mounted on 7 aluminum panels, 96 x 96″.

ON Speak Spanish, Yo Hablo Inglés

Speak Spanish, Yo Hablo Inglés is an oil painting on aluminum panels mounted together, with one on top: a cutout of a human figure. The background is an American flag. Its white strips are inspired in the wampum belts from the Lenape nation (Delaware) believed to be the original belts presented by the Lenape to William Penn, the founder of Pennsylvania. The red strips are decorated with Fire Pink flowers (Silene Virginia), a native wildflower that mostly grows in forests throughout eastern United States, mostly from Western Pennsylvania southwest to Arkansas. Over the flag there is a carved barbed wire. The main character portrays a double paradigma, a superhero as the makes of Superman or similar, and a Catholic Martyr. Both fictional beings embodied by an immigrant with years in the States, already part of two worlds, who witnesses with her eight eyes the struggle of all immigrants who search for the promised land in America. The superhero/Catholic Martyr is speaking Spanish and English, seemingly her only power, and is commenting, questioning, judging the present situation of America closing its borders to refugees, while emphasizing her right to be bilingual without fear…