Jesus “Chuy” Renteria is an artist, writer, dancer, and teacher, but above all, he is a storyteller. Born in Iowa City and raised in West Liberty, both sides of his family are from border towns in Mexico that transplanted to meatpacking towns in the Midwest. Growing up in West Liberty, he oscillated between the Mexican, Laotian, and small-town cultures that made up Iowa’s first majority-Hispanic town. Chuy tells stories celebrating the spaces between cultures, of mangled Spanglish and generational clashes, of the messiness of people finding themselves. In addition to his writing, Chuy is an adjunct faculty member teaching hip-hop dance for the University of Iowa Dance Department and is the Public Engagement Coordinator for Hancher Auditorium.
"I grew up believing that my life was a conduit to making art. My small hometown of West Liberty, Iowa, nurtured that belief. Where cultures of people coexisted as litmus tests for America at large. Where Mexican and Laotian immigrants intermingled with small-town Midwestern values. I learned to draw before I could walk. Started my twenty-year dance career before learning how to drive. Began writing before I realized how important my perspective was to the collective. I have always wanted to use these forms to describe how it feels to be who I am. To document the passion of the people around me. To champion vibrant, messy cultural experience not reflected in popular culture. Ultimately I want my output to represent visceral humanness. Prose describing awkward cross-cultural exchanges. Ephemeral dances into the twilight of my career. I hope that people who experience my stories feel pangs of remembrance. That they see the root of our collective story."