For 19 years, Betsy Casañas, is a studio artist and a public mural artist from Puerto Rico, is now based in Philadelphia, took some time out of her busy schedule to tell Latin Trends about how she became a muralist, describing her style, letting us know about her current projects and much more. She most recently took part in the Los Muros Hablan NYC Festival that happened in August 2013.
Latin Trends (LT): How did you become a muralist?
Betsy Casañas (BC): I began painting when I was 14, but the neighborhood that I grew up in became so dangerous that my parents did not allow me to go outside. I then became pregnant with my son and was looking for work. I applied to Taller Puertorriqueno and both the person that was supposed to interview me was late and the teacher never showed up. I was hired on the spot and within months, I was recommended to other organizations including Network Arts Philadelphia and this is where I began to do public art.
LT: How would you describe your style to make people recognize your work?
BC: People can recognize my style by figurative and highly patterned and also expressive pieces.
LT: What inspires you? Where do you pull your inspiration?
BC: Because of my work in art activism, I work with the community and understand what voice is coming from younger people, which is also a reason why artists have a very unique voice.
LT: What does being a muralist mean to you?
BC: Being a muralist for me is a way of bringing people together and creates conversations. It is a way to work with young leaders and gives people an opportunity to make a difference through art and active socialism.
LT: What projects are you currently working on?
BC: I am actually working on two right now. The first is the Porch Light Iniitiative and I am the lead artist for the organization Asociacion de Puertorriquenos en Marcha. The second project is with the Semilla Arts Initiative that I found in 2007. Semilla is a grassroots initiative that uses art as a catalyst for social change in underserved communities. I will be painting three murals; two in Lima, La Victoria and San Augustin and one in Piura. I will be working with Social workers, Educators, students and the community members. All murals start in Philadelphia with a crew of women artist that is comprised of community members and young artists that I formed earlier this year.
More information and links to Betsy’s work can be found on her website: http://www.betsycasanas.com/