Urban artist brings art and creativity to her community
HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — On the plain white wall at Impact Academy, Lindaluz Carrillo saw a canvas.
She began her new mural Thursday by painting a pastel palette of colors including mint, lavender and soft orange on the bare hallway wall, knowing her choices would brighten the space without seeming too harsh.
“Calming colors are really important for a space like this,” Carrillo said.
The mural, along with a related one on another wall of the high school, would display positive messages chosen by students reminding them to “be brave” and “speak up.”
Carrillo, 26, is a urban artist and graphic designer from Hartford whose murals at schools, near a future playground and even on the ground in the middle of a city intersection are helping bring art to the community.
She also works with young creators in different programs and sometimes even invites them to help her paint murals, encouraging their creativity and helping them feel invested in their neighborhoods.
“Everyone’s an artist, I feel,” Carrillo said. “It’s just a matter of how much exposure is given to them.”
Most of Carrillo’s creations combine bold colors with graffiti-style lettering and patterns inspired by her family’s Peruvian roots. Many of the phrases she uses come out of her personal beliefs about the importance of family and self-love.
C.J. Desir, a 22-year-old artist helping Carrillo paint the Impact Academy mural, said he thinks her mentorship will help him graduate from painting on his bedroom walls.
Desir likes the originality in Carrillo’s work, how even the fonts she uses are designed from scratch.
“It’s raw,” he said.
Carrillo and her family moved from New York to Hartford when she was a toddler.
Her earliest art memories come from when her mother would bring paper home from work. She was an only child without many friends, she said, so she would entertain herself by practicing the bubble lettering her dad taught her.
“I would just draw all the time,” she said.
Carrillo attended the Greater Hartford Academy of the Arts for high school and went on to earn a degree in graphic design from the University of Hartford.
Carrillo said her friends brought her into the hip hop and street art scenes as a teen, and that was when she was introduced to mural work by other artists.
The local inspirations in her art are often paired with those she has found in Peru, where her parents are from.
She visited the country as a child, loving the bold lettering and textile patterns she saw people incorporating into their lives. Although Carrillo said she hasn’t visited the country in a while, she hopes to return.
Different Peruvian groups and styles have encouraged her to add more of her identity into her work.
“I feel like it’s not 100% there yet, but I’m still trying to figure out how to fully put that in there,” Carrillo said.
Right now, Carrillo is working part-time at the Children’s Museum as a Butterfly House interpreter. She takes care of plants, raises caterpillars, guides families on tours and spends time feeding her fascination with butterflies. She said she hopes to start incorporating more into her art.
Carrillo has also substitute taught at the Academy of the Arts, but now she mostly freelances.
The West Hartford Art League has also given Carrillo a way to work with children. In recent classes, they have explored pop art through emojis.
“Giving kids that liberty and space to feel free is what I believe in,” Carrillo said. “You don’t want to oppress their creative energy.”
Jasmin Agosto, who runs a performing arts production company and shared a studio with Carrillo until recently, said Carrillo focuses on using her art to help the people around her.
“She’s committed to her city and to her people and to working with people from other cities,” Agosto said.
The two first met when Agosto began substitute teaching at the Academy of the Arts, also her alma mater, while Carrillo was still a student. Their relationship has evolved over the years, Agosto said, to a point where they can support each other both professionally and personally.
Agosto said Carrillo’s passion for Hartford comes from her childhood in the city and the opportunities she found around her that encouraged her to pursue art.
Carrillo also met mentors who helped her along the way, leading her to understand the importance of working with children and teaching them what she knows.
“I think she’s hoping to be that person for other folks,” Agosto said.
As she seeks to grow her name, Carrillo said she wants to travel more and do more collaborations with other artists.
Between other projects, she has been trying to partner with local businesses to create murals for their stores. Agosto said that type of community involvement has the ability to change Hartford.
“She could be leading that kind of project to paint the city,” Agosto said.