“Nature, colors, spirituality, self-knowledge, beauty and the power of black women and ancestral matrix cultures,” says Criola about the things that inspire her.
The Brazilian muralist is in downtown Las Vegas to paint a bold diptych called “Black Girl Magic,” for the 3-day Life is Beautiful Festival.
She says she’s happy to pursue aesthetically pleasing projects while being aware that there is always the burden of the past that has formed this Afro Brazilian woman 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.” The portrait that looms above people walking through town here is elegant and proud and full of splendid ideas that pop around her head, like so many cosmically exploding afro-puffs.
Criola says she gravitates toward painting black women “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.”
Criola is invited to Life is Beautiful by the women-led curator group Justkids.