Meet the Faculty: Malaika Zweig Latty

By Malaika Zweig Latty, Ryman Arts Master Teaching Artist

Growing up surrounded by artists, I have been creating artworks all my life. I started very early as a teaching assistant for my stepdad. I was fourteen when the art school where he taught asked me to be his assistant. I felt immediately comfortable teaching with him. To me, teaching was being another set of eyes, helping each art student to see what they were doing.

Master Teaching Artist Malaika Latty explains the anatomy of the human hand and demonstrates how to draw the hand from observation in Intermediate Drawing & Painting class.

In 2006, I applied to be a Master Teaching Artist for Ryman Arts. Simultaneously, I was also teaching at the California State Summer School for the Arts at Cal Arts as well as at University of California, Los Angeles Extension and Citrus College. I had heard great things about Ryman Arts from my students at Los Angeles County High School for the Arts. Yet, I had no idea how wonderful the program was until I started teaching there. It felt like a perfect fit. I was completely blown away by the amount of support the teachers and students received. I had never taught for a program with teaching assistants. It was dreamy.

Floating the Blimp, 2009

My art making has evolved dramatically over the last ten years. I draw inspiration from other art, music, and nature. Early on, I had been an oil painter, working from life. I loved painting still lifes. I loved the impossible feeling of seeing something in light and shadow and forming that moment in time with paint. Through a dramatic and difficult life experience, I was thrown into abstraction completely unexpectedly. I started using more fluid media like watercolor and acrylic ink on paper. It was like releasing all the balloons inside that needed to float or pop.

Untitled, 2016

I think of my current work as figurative.  I see the human gesture as the root of my mark. I love figure drawing. It's in my shapes. I don't necessarily want the work to look like figures, but I want the movement to feel real. In my most recent work, I am exploring pastel over watercolor. They are still confusing to me. They feel more patterned and linear than my fluid water media paintings.

Buoyant, 2016

For young artists who want to pursue a career in fine art, I would advise them to not be afraid to make your own artwork. Creating art is contributing to the peaceful nature of being human. Art making is a natural human act. You create these small ripples in the world that guide toward human empathy. Don't worry so much about naming your career. Nurture your gift. Stay focused, and trust that doing what you love is always a great choice.


Malaika Zweig Latty is a Los Angeles based painter. She received her BFA from California College of the Arts and her MFA from Massachusetts College of Art, with additional studies at L’ecole des Beaux Arts in Paris. Her work has been exhibited publicly since 1997 and is held in private collections throughout the United States and in France. Malaika joined Ryman Arts in 2006. To learn more about Malaika, visit www.malaikalatty.com.