Award: Research & Development Grant

Discipline: Visual Arts

Project Collaborator(s):
Maria Laughlin, Mural mentorship
Jessie Robles, Mural Mentorship 

City/Town: Yuma

Year: 2019

Artist Website:

My whole life, I’ve wanted to make Yuma more artistic, full of more art. I’m living this dream. I can’t really explain how amazing it would be to be able to have the ability to paint the longest mural in Yuma, and in the process change how my city approaches public art.

Excerpt from Lia Littlewood’s R&D Grant application

Yuma mural artist Lia Littlewood received funding in support of her vision of a four mile-long mural spanning walls along the east side of Yuma’s Avenue C from 1st Street to 32nd Street. The mural will present iconic Yuma imagery and scenery in variety of artistic styles. To realize her vision at this massive the scale, Littlewood will enlist many newer painters and muralists, using the project to teach and mentor her less experienced collaborators in navigating the bureaucratic side of public art.

With 100 murals already under her belt, Littlewood is well acquainted with the rules, regulations, and policies that can sometimes pose a barrier to the creation of public art in Yuma. In particular, Littlewood has had to contend with her city’s sign code, a 60 year old policy that makes no distinction between works of art and works of advertising when it comes to pulically visible graphics on buildings, and thus restricts mural space to 15% of any given wall. A significant part of Littlewood’s project will be guiding her collaborators through the necessary negotiations with city policy. Along the way, she hopes her project will spur policy changes that will make it easier for Yuma’s public artists to work in the city.

Be Yuman

Mural, Completed April 24, 2017
15 ft X 80 ft

Mural team, Littlewood Fine Art & Community Co-Op 

Cafecito Coffee Shop, Yuma, AZ

Completed September 15, 2018

7 ft x 6 ft

Lia Littlewood is a Yuma Native who loves creating avenues for artists to reach their potential. She has been creating for 15 years, 10 years professionally. Littlewood has been nominated twice for the Governors art award, statewide, and won the Tribute of the Muses in 2017, highest art award in the city of Yuma. She has inspired others in providing free art education for children, in making the marginalized feel welcome, in building community with and through art, in garnering direct financial support from Yumans of all types, and in emphasizing positive self-expression as the cornerstone to improving quality of life in Yuma.

She was Chair of the City’s Public Art Committee. She attended, and the Co-Op co-sponsored, the annual Arts Congress at the Capitol. Littlewood also is a part of the Creative Communities institute creating. This requires hard work, significant time, and a clear vision for a better Yuma. Last Year Littlewood organized Yuma’s first-ever PRIDE event. The LGBTQ+ community in Yuma had long lived underground. Lia has also led in working to make life better in Yuma by engaging with the City directly to revise its laws and regulations concerning murals and signage.

As a muralist, she has run into ‘pushback’ from officials as to what can and cannot be painted on building. But, knowing that there is a spectrum between ‘Eat At Joes’ advertising and ‘pure art’ pieces, she has worked with Community Development and made the case for art not being subject to commercial signage regulation.