100 Creatives

Tiffany Lopez of ASU on Why Phoenix's Art Scene Needs to Reflect Its Diverse Cultures

Every other year, New Times puts the spotlight on Phoenix's creative forces — painters, dancers, designers, and actors. Leading up to the release of Best of Phoenix, we're taking a closer look at 100 more. Welcome to the 2016 edition of 100 Creatives. Up today is 37. Tiffany López.

Tiffany López practices art for its healing properties. 

"Experiencing the arts is a powerful way to stage conversations about violence and trauma," the 50-year-old artist and educator says. "The arts are about coming into voice, becoming present in your body, and sharing work for public witnessing – all things that violence and trauma try to destroy."

That's what brought her to a creative career: It was "a means to widen the doors that were held open for me to find a path of healing and change."

López is the newly appointed director of the School of Film, Dance, and Theatre at Arizona State University's Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts. To the role, which she assumed in July 2016, she brings more than 30 years of experience working as a dramaturge, working to build and expand plays, projects, and audiences. She comes to ASU from University of California Riverside, where she taught for 21 years and founded the Latina/o Play Project at the Culver Center for the Arts.

"Working within a university setting," she says, "I have focused on developing community-based arts programming and cultivating opportunities for students to create the stories they feel are missing from the world and most want to see told."

Connecting with students through their stories is important to López, who was the first in her family to graduate from high school and go to college. It's important to give them an outlet — and to push them the way her mentors, including poet Olivia Castellano, did. 

They keep her inspired, too, with "raw stories about important issues told by voices working to impact how we experience the world starting with that first moment encountering the art," she says. "I am most inspired when I leave a creative experience feeling transformed in my thinking about both art and the world."

I came to Phoenix with a lot of excitement and a cattle dog named Dixie.

I make art because it keeps me connected to a community of compulsive truth tellers.

I'm most productive when I’m working on a project with a team of creatives.

My inspiration wall is full of memories of people who have made a difference in my life, along with anecdotes from visionaries. “Culture eats strategy for breakfast” is among my favorites.

I've learned most from working with a range of artists on projects that challenge what I think I know about art and the world.

Good work should always tell a story in an engaging way that is informed, authentic, and knows its audience.

The Phoenix creative scene could use a more networked arts community designed to fully reflect the diverse cultures of Phoenix and their many languages.

The 2016 Creatives so far:

100. Nicole Olson
99. Andrew Pielage
98. Jessica Rowe
97. Danny Neumann
96. Beth Cato
95. Jessie Balli
94. Ron May
93. Leonor Aispuro
92. Sarah Waite
91. Christina "Xappa" Franco
90. Christian Adame
89. Tara Sharpe
88. Patricia Sannit
87. Brian Klein
86. Dennita Sewell
85. Garth Johnson
84. Charissa Lucille
83. Ryan Downey
82. Samantha Thompson
81. Cherie Buck-Hutchison
80. Freddie Paull
79. Jennifer Campbell
78. Dwayne Hartford
77. Shaliyah Ben
76. Kym Ventola
75. Matthew Watkins
74. Tom Budzak
73. Rachel Egboro
72. Rosemary Close
71. Ally Haynes-Hamblen
70. Alex Ozers
69. Fawn DeViney
68. Laura Dragon
67. Stephanie Neiheisel
66. Michael Lanier
65. Jessica Rajko
64. Velma Kee Craig
63. Oliver Hibert
62. Joya Scott
61. Raji Ganesan
60. Ashlee Molina
59. Myrlin Hepworth
58. Amy Ettinger
57. Sheila Grinell
56. Forrest Solis
55. Mary Meyer
54. Robert Hoekman Jr.
53. Joan Waters
52. Gabriela Muñoz
51. ColorOrgy
50. Liz Magura
49. Anita and Sam Means
48. Liz Ann Hewett
47. Tiffany Fairall
46. Vanessa Davidson
45. Michelle Dock
44. Nia Witherspoon
43. Monique Sandoval
42. Nayon Iovino
41. Daniel Davisson
40. Andrew King
39. Michelle Moyer
38. Jimmy Nguyen
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Becky Bartkowski is an award-winning journalist and the arts and music editor at New Times, where she writes about art, fashion, and pop culture.
Contact: Becky Bartkowski