I met Sonia Luévano on the set of The Night Shift. We were both extras on the show. She is a lively woman with a sunny disposition. When I found out she was an artist, it did not surprise me. But actually seeing her work shows the spirit of the woman who creates it.

Using the rich New Mexico landscapes and culture as an inspiration, Luévano pours life into every canvas she touches. The owner of Xlessthanthree Art says that art is innate for her. But there are driving factors that move her work.

“It is part of me. It is a gift bestowed upon me. To deny it would be denying myself. As with any gift or talent, it should be used for the greater good–to help our neighbors and community. This is also a driving force,” said Luévano. “In whatever I do in my work, whatever I may paint or create, I hope that it, in one way or another, is uplifting–giving a sense of relatability, hope, or beauty in a world that, more often than not, can seem hopeless. To sum up the answer, the thing about art that drives me is to love people.”

Luévano’s love of art has been with her since she was a child. A true passion, this visual gift is part of her DNA. She always remembered having a pencil or pen in hand and drawing when she was little. “I can’t remember a time that I wasn’t doodling as a means to focus or even zone out for as long as I can remember,” she said. “I always had difficulty being able to put my thoughts into words because my brain operates visually, and putting my thoughts into images has always been beneficial to me. My mother and father have both always been very creative in their ways, and I’m sure it has a lot to do with genetics as well, but with me, it only seems to become more a part of me the more I embrace it and age.”

Describing her art has always been difficult for her as she doesn’t fit into any particular niche. When it comes to her work, she does feel that it takes many levels to explain her process and describe her art. “I have been referred to as a metaphysical artist and a spiritual surrealist,” says Luévano. “My art has symbolism taken from iconography, but yet, would not be liturgical, nor would it be solely metaphysical, or surreal, because my narratives are real to me. I hope to be seen as something new–something needed in the world. [I would like] to be able to find others that fit into this [world] with me.” 

Spending time on her art is a 24/7 process. Luévano is working on the “work-life balance” to produce new pieces. She credits the ability to stay on top of being a mother, wife and artist to her husband.

“I have the most amazing and supportive husband in the world. He is a very busy man pursuing his own goals and running a business. But he’ll take time on his days off to take care of everything at home so I can spend time at my studio. He is the biggest encouragement for me and thinks the world of me and my talent. Even in the moments that I feel defeated, think about throwing in the paints and brushes, he’ll push me to achieve my goals and dreams.”

An artist is always evolving. Becoming stagnant is something artists fear to experience. Luévano evolves, but she feels her evolution has been recent. The metamorphosis has only pushed her to become a stronger artist.

“A short while back, I went through a bit of an existential crisis where it felt as though everything I built up, the goals I had met, the path that I was on, was all falling apart around me.  A big support in my life was Father Graham Golden. We worked together on the board for Art at the Abbey and he came to many of my openings. His passing hit hard and during this existential moment of mine, I remembered conversations he and I had,” says Luévano. “The outcome of this is I’ve become more purposeful with everything I do and create. Not being nervous about being passionate about what I want to do or what I feel I need to do. As a result, I have noticed that my work has not only been better and more ‘me,’ but I have been quicker and able to produce more art in shorter amounts of time.”

This increase in production has led to many opportunities to showcase her works in different venues, including her small Downtown studio space. But like any artist, she has a goal for the future of her work including opening a gallery and community art space.

“The ultimate dream would be to have a space to share with the artist community as studio spaces, a gallery and a workshop,” shared Luévano Campbell. “To be blunt and grandiose, I want to be part of a new movement. Perhaps a New Renaissance in a Post-Plague World where great minds and creatives come together to restore beauty in the world and bring hope to humanity. Even if I don’t see something large come from whatever I do, it would be nice to have an impact, even if I never get to see it happen in future generations to come.”

Xlessthanthree Art is located downtown at 718 Central Avenue SW by appointment. You can view her work on her website, www.xlessthan3art.com, and connect with her on social media via her Instagram @soniakluevano and Facebook facebook.com/xlessthan3art. As to the name of her studio, she says, “It comes from the days of emoticons and is the heart with cross bones X<3. It stands as a reminder to always die to my selfish desires in order to love others in all I do.”

It’s also tattooed on her shoulder.