Amalia Mesa-Bains (born July 10, 1950), born in Santa Clara, California, is a psychologist, curator, author and artist. She received a B.A. in painting from San Jose State University before earning a M.A. in interdisciplinary education from San Francisco State University and a Ph.D. in clinical psychology from the Wright Institute in Berkeley, California, and worked for the San Francisco Unified School District as a psychologist. During the period between 1965–1985 she was the regional committee chair (Northern California) for the exhibition Chicano Art: Resistance and Affirmation. She has written Ceremony of Spirit: Nature and Memory in Contemporary Latino Art.In 1989 she received the San Francisco Mission Cultural Center's Award of Honor, Association of American Cultures' Artist Award and the Chicana Foundation of Northern California's Distinguished Working Women Award in 1990, INTAR-Hispanic Arts Center's Golden Palm Award in 1991, and the MacArthur Fellowship award in 1992.Mesa-Bains's first exhibit was at the 1967 Phelan Awards show that took place in the Palace of the Legion of Honor in San Francisco. She began creating altar installations in 1975. Her artistic work is often autobiographical, relating to her Mexican Catholic heritage. Although these works take the form of an altar, they are not specifically intended for religious use. According to Kristin G. Congdon and Kara Kelley Hallmark, authors of Artists from Latin American Cultures: A Biographical Dictionary, "Mesa-Bains's altars often honor women who have broken social barriers." Using techniques related to found art, Mesa-Bains has incorporated "dried leaves, rocks, pre-Columbian ceramic fragments" and other unusual materials to construct artworks such as her 1987 work Grotto of the Virgins, which is dedicated to painter Frida Kahlo (1907–1954), actor Dolores del Río (1905–1983), and to the artist's grandmother.