"What motivates me in my art is a brilliant opportunity to explore shapes and colors with the eye of the soul. My art allows me to seek change and work toward better human conditions."
"I was born in beautiful Huanuco on June 20, 1974. My parents are from Huanuco, but we moved when I was two years old, and they dedicated themselves to handicrafts. They passed their knowledge of the textile arts on to me.
"I started out in weaving and, I was a child, I always liked to draw people's portraits. Years later, I met the man who is now my husband, Leoncio Tinoco. We founded a cultural center to offer art workshops – first popular art and later, fine art. We formed a drawing and painting workshop where I took part. These workshops were a great help in reinforcing my knowledge, although I still have a lot to learn.
"Thanks to my husband's continuous travel – invited by Novica – we have been able to create a volunteer program where 75 children from low-income families are taught by volunteers. They learn English, and we teach them what we know of weaving, painting and engraving mate gourds.
"I wanted to become a Novica artisan because Novica is an open window to the world, and an opportunity to show our art.
"I began in the artisan world thanks to my parents, who taught me to love my country and our customs. As a child, I loved shaping clay into vases and animals. Today, my hobbies include cooking as well as riding my bicycle in the mountains and to nearby artisan towns.
"In my paintings, I try to share the privilege of human essence and its nature. I channel my best feelings and spirituality into my work without forgetting the autochthonous element and how special my land is. What motivates me in my art is a brilliant opportunity to explore shapes and colors with the eye of the soul. My art allows me to seek change and work toward better human conditions.
"What I try and transmit in my paintings is that my feelings speak of my history, my culture, my reality, where we are born and grow and lose ourselves in freedom. I also choose themes from the Andean world, my people and my customs.
"For me, this art is a discipline of work. It is also a magical essence that envelops the character, a spiritual synchronization that sets us free.
"Without a doubt, the biggest challenge I've had to face is getting ahead with my family; it requires great effort, dedication and especially, discipline to be able to achieve your objectives.
"To my Novica friends, I would like to say that you are the essence and potential to achieve a real change in the lives of artisans and their towns."
Maria Leon has exhibited her work extensively throughout Peru.