Fellowship Program
Sarah in the Summertime 1947, oil on can

Sarah in the Summertime,

1947. Oil on canvas, 69” x 28”. © Catherine Lea Weeks

The Tom Lea Research Fellows Program was established in 2013 by Dee and Adair Margo to encourage high-level research using primary documents related to the art, literature, and life of Tom Lea-  a nationally renowned painter, illustrator, muralist, and author from El Paso whose works are world-renowned. 

The Tom Lea Fellowship will award $3,500 per fellow who undertakes a publication-quality research project focused on Tom Lea, his art, his writing, and his role in the art of El Paso, Texas, or the United States. Fellows may explore the classical ideas and training that informed his work or theoretical premises that may relate to understanding Lea’s work. El Paso is home to the Tom Lea Institute, which is a superb resource and research repository that offers research support to Fellows.


The fellowship is open to current graduate and undergraduate students at the University of Texas-El Paso in any department or program in the College of Liberal Arts and involves a project related to Tom Lea. Sample types of projects are as follows:

• A scholarly work based on primary documents related to Tom Lea

• A scholarly or creative work that furthers the knowledge of Tom Lea

• A project that enlivens knowledge or understanding of the Tom Lea Trail

• A project that contributes to Tom Lea Curricula used at school districts in the El Paso area


Application submissions for 2021 closed on March 26th, but all undergraduates and graduate students are encouraged to apply next year.



Dr. Melissa Warak

Assistant Professor, Art History

FFA 454




Headshot Dr. Johsua Fan.jpg
Headshot Guadalupe Lucero.jpg


Dr. Joshua Fan

Associate Professor of the UTEP History Department

Dr. Joshua Fan is the first UTEP faculty member to be awarded the Tom Lea Fellowship.  Dr. Fan’s project, Tom Lea’s China: the history, the land, and the people in his paintings, will treat each piece of Tom Lea’s work as a direct window into the past using them to help understand World War II China.  Dr. Fan will be presenting his research during this year’s Tom Lea Month Celebration.

Guadalupe Lucero

Art History Undergraduate Student

Guadalupe Lucero is an active member of the Art History Association on campus and volunteers at the KTEP radio station.  Ms. Lucero’s presentation compares the works of former president George W. Bush, who depicted wounded soldiers of Iraq and Afghanistan, with Tom Lea’s artwork, as the first first embedded artist correspondent for LIFE Magazine during WWII.

Iliana Pichardo.jpg

Iliana Pichardo Urrutia

Creative Writing Masters Candidate

Iliana Pichardo Urrutia is currently a second-year candidate in UTEP’s Creative Writing Bilingual MFA Program.  She is a published writer and producer for KTEP’s Words on a Wire radio program.  Ms. Pichardo Urrutia presents Tom Lea: Exploration in Landscape, a creative essay that focuses on the ethnography of Tom Lea.  Her presentation includes prose, poetry, and phonographic works of sound art.  Ms. Pichardo Urrutia’s essay will culminate in her final presentation for our Tom Lea Celebration.

past fellows



Javier Segovia

Latin American Border Studies, M.A.

Upon reaching the top of the Cerro de los Muleros where his friend was sculpting a 29 foot monument, Tom Lea and his wife, Sarah, were startled by a white spectre covered in limestone dust.  Javier Segovia, curator of the “Ghost on Mount Cristo Rey” exhibit, in partnership with the Centennial Museum, will expand on the history of the Cristo Rey monument and Lea-Soler friendship, by drawing on a seminar paper written by Tom Lea’s Mexican stepsister, Bertha Partida Schaer, other original research, and a selection of original paintings.



Karina Salcido, Art History, B.A.

Alejandra Valdez Carrasco, Art History and French, B.A.


José Miguel Leyva, History, Ph.D.

Jade Nicole Williams, English, B.A.



Delia Ramos, Art History, B.A.

Maria del Carmen Barney, Art History, B.A.



Claudia Ley, Sociology, M.A.

Cynthia Renteria, History, Ph.D.



Mauricio Olague, MAIS, M.A.

Rolando Rodriguez, History, Ph.D.