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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 have been exhibited across the nation, including in the White House and at the El Paso Museum of Art. A classically trained artist, Lea’s work primarily communicates the environment and history of the Paso del Norte region of Texas, New Mexico, and Chihuahua. Fellows are expected to undertake a publication-quality research project focused on Tom Lea, his art, his writing, his role in the art of El Paso/ Texas /the United States, 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 (see the Resources for Fellows page), which is a superb resource and research repository that offers research support to Tom Lea Fellows.

The fellowship is open to current graduate and undergraduate students in any department or program in the College of Liberal Arts, to College of Education majors, and to faculty who would like to investigate a research topic project related to Tom Lea. Sample types of projects include the following:

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

  • A scholarly or creative work that furthers the knowledge of Tom Lea (and his work, including his art, his writing, or others)

  • A project that enlivens knowledge or understanding of the Tom Lea Trail or Lea’s work.

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

Applications are due by 5:00 pm on March 3, 2024.

Apply today>>


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Dr. Dominic Dousa

Graduate Advisor and Theory Division Coordinator

Dr. Dominic Dousa seeks to compose chamber compositions that reflect the history and landscapes of the American Southwest. Dr. Dousa is currently a Professor of Music at The University of Texas at El Paso. Dr. Dousa’s project, along with the Galan Trio( from Greece) will perform 3 compositions from piano, violin, and cello. These works are inspired from Tom Lea’s murals of Conquistadores, Pioneers, Comanches and First Books in New Mexico. The performance will be held on March 21 at 7:30 p.m. at Fox Fine Arts theater room 340, UTEP.


Dr. Nayeli Dousa

Assistant Professor of Instruction - Music. Piano

Dr. Nayeli Dousa is a lecturer at the University of Texas at El Paso in the Music Department and is a collaborative pianist. Dr. Dousa will incorporate an undergraduate Music Appreciation Class at UTEP that will focus to analyze music during three decades (1930-1950). These decades are highlighted by Tom Lea’s paintings of “ Sarah in the Summertime”, “ the Southwest Mural” and “ The Pass of the North” mural. The course will be designed to help students connect the relationship between culture and music.


Zazil Collins

 M.F.A Bilingual Creative Writing Candidate

Zazil Collins is currently a Graduate student at UTEP pursuing her MFA. Zazil Collins will present "Tom Lea, an ecopoetic vision." It will include prose and poetry of the personas depicted in many of Tom Lea's paintings and murals characterized by humans, animals, and the landscape.  


Eric Chavez's

History PhD Candidate

Eric Chavez's presentation will explore "the posthumous life of murals" and the socio-political nexus between Tom Lea Jr. as a muralist and examine how Tom Lea's murals interacted culturally and socio-politically with different waves of muralism. Chavez is a Ph.D. candidate, public speaker, and published author.

past fellows

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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.

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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.



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.

Roland Rodriguez, History, Ph.D.

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