Art is powerful. That’s the belief of self-proclaimed “artivist” Rosalia Torres-Weiner, who is combining her art with her activism. She’s representing stories of the Latino community in her home of Charlotte, North Carolina, with colors, shapes and vibrant people in her paintings and murals. While she’s made art that decorates the city of Charlotte, and the Smithsonian, she’s also bringing the expressive tool of art-making to others, with her innovative art truck.
Rosalia Torres-Weiner, Artivist
…A lot of my friends, artist friends, said, ‘ You’re not going to sell. You’re not going to make it.’ And I said, ‘I’m not here to sell, I’m here to send a message.’
The artivist’s art truck
The food truck scene has been booming in recent years, making way for possibilities far beyond the typical ice cream truck. When Charlotte native Rosalia Torres-Weiner saw this trend in her city, she too made the move to go mobile. This time, not with food, but with art.
“I thought about an art truck because it’s necessary,” she said. “Working with these children and the families… They don’t have access to transportation or they’re afraid.”
Torres-Weiner is an “artivist,” or artist and activist, whose paintings focus on immigration and social justice. She also brings art-making to communities that don’t have access to art with her Red Calaca truck.
“Having an art truck and bringing the art truck and the art right outside their doors is very special. I remember a little boy, he came and hugged me, he said, ‘This is the best day of my life,'” she said.
Helping children heal with The Magic Kite
Torres-Weiner wants to help children specifically affected by the deportation of family members. She’s provided them a way to heal through art with The Magic Kite project, inspired by her own childhood.
“In Mexico, when I was a little kid, my mom used to take us to kite festivals. A kite is a symbol of Mexico and I invited children to come to my studio and create a kite with me so they could tell their stories,” she said. “My idea was to glue their little story that they drew on a piece of paper on the kite, and then fly it. For me, it was like a way to let it go. You’re going to be ok.”
Sending a message with her art
An established artist herself, Torres-Weiner has paintings in the city of Charlotte and in the Smithsonian.
One of her murals in Charlotte depicts the skyline of the city with Our Lady of Guadalupe, and butterflies that represent members of the Latino community coming there.
She uses bright colors and purposeful details to tell their stories.
“These are heartbreaking stories. Families being separated by deportation. People didn’t know that the deportations were happening in Charlotte, and I needed to do something with my art,” she said.
Before her success as an artivist, she encountered some who were skeptical about what she was trying to do in her career.
“When I started painting about immigration and social justice, a lot of my friends, artist friends, they said, ‘You’re not going to sell. You’re not going to make it.’ And I said, ‘I’m not here to sell, I’m here to send a message.'”
As an artist, her continued focus is on her message and telling people’s stories
“It’s not like I just paint,” she said. “I talk to people, I listen and then I create art. I tell them that they can tell their stories, they can express themselves and especially, I tell them, art heals.”
Learn more about Rosalia Torres-Weiner’s art on the Red Calaca Studio website.
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