Invited by women-led curator group Justkids, the international Brazilian rising star Taina Lima known as Criola made her artistic U.S debut for the three-day festival Life is Beautiful, adding not one, but two new artworks to the public art collection of the historic neighborhood Downtown Las Vegas.
Standing tall and leaning proud onto a colorful backdrop of vibrant tribal graphics, creating a high contrast against her dark skin, Black Girl Magic is a colorful eye-magnet, brightening the desert city with an enormous portrait of an Afro Brazilian woman, wearing puffs with her head held high, and showing off a mystical opening between her eyes. Her wholeness, beauty, and strength are palpable. The piece is located at the corner of 7th Street and Stewart Avenue.
Justkids had a chat with the young artist about her vision, her beginnings in the arts, and what inspires her to create.
Justkids: Tell me a little bit about yourself.
Criola: “My name is Criola, a Latin American Afro-diasporic Brazilian artist. I come from a matriarchal family of black women who were forced to be strong and resistant because of structural racism since the colonization of my country“.
Justkids: How did you get into art?
Criola: “I started painting in college. I was studying fashion design at night and I was a fan of rap and attending the MC battles in my city. I found in urban art an instrument that allowed me to express my essence and what I believe and desire for myself and for the collective”.
Justkids: What inspires you?:
Criola: “Nature, colors, spirituality, self-knowledge, beauty and the power of black women and ancestral matrix cultures”.
Justkids: What does your work aim to say?
“My work intends to express my essence. And my essence, among many things, encompasses questions and reflections about the injustice of social and global models that exploit people, genders, and races. My art was the way I found to manifest and denounce the racism that my ancestors and myself experienced throughout life. My generation of women understands that the burden of having to be a warrior all the time is too much. We want respect, fairness, justice, and the right to happiness. I am also inspired by other things. I love vibrant colors, I love the diversity of nature in my country, I love to create, reading about self-knowledge, music and learning new things. And I think that each one of them translates a little bit of what I am and everything I am is reflected in my paintings”.
Justkids: What does it mean for you to paint portraits of black women?
Criola: “It means to exalt and represent, in a positive way, an aesthetic that should be positioned in a place of honor and appreciation. It also means being a protagonist in the evolution process of my individual consciousness, and collective consciousness, which involves the use of my power and artistic exploration games to deconstruct systems of oppression that are still very much present in Brazil.
Drawing on her personal Brazilian experiences, as well as historical and political references, Criola spreads the word of self-love, self-acceptance, and black women empowerment through her beautiful and meaningful artwork that resonates so deeply in the U.S as well.
Discover more projects on www.justkids.art and @justkidsofficial on Instagram.