Young artist goes from graffiti to canvas art, showcases work at gallery

By Shondiin Silversmith
Navajo Times

WINDOW ROCK, November 8, 2012

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(Courtesy photo)

Kirbielya Platero, 23, first started by expressing herself through street art and graffiti. Her work is currently featured at The El Chante: Casa de Cultura Art Gallery in Albuquerque as part of a three-artist spread called, "Urban and Rural Perspectives."

A young Navajo activist, artist and mother's work is currently featured at an Albuquerque art gallery as part of a three-artist spread called, "Urban and Rural Perspectives."

Kirbielya Platero, 23, started exploring the world of art when she was 15. She first started by expressing herself through street art and graffiti.

"I started painting walls and graffiti became my first serious connection of love for me. To me that was how I expressed myself," Platero said about the impact graffiti has had on her life.

At age 17, Platero had her son Josiah and he, "definitely influenced my art a lot," since she started exploring canvas art five years ago.

"The way that I paint is related to graffiti, I do my fill-ins and I do my blending. I always outline it in black," Platero said about the technique she uses.

"When I painted my first canvas I didn't really know what I was doing. I was just painting," she said about her first experience. "It was really random. I remember I just bought a canvas and sat in my room with the paint."

Bianca Encinias, owner of the gallery, said she's been able to watch Platero's art evolving over the years.

"It's interesting to see her evolve in her technique and style over the past five years," she said comparing her artwork now to another piece she bought from Platero five years ago.

"What I realized through acrylic art is that I am really good at mixing colors and blending colors," Platero said about how her paintings have evolved. "I am able to coordinate them off other colors and that is one thing I get recognition for."

"You can tell her color work is inspired by her graffiti…and she is taking it to her canvas," Encinias said about Platero's use of color in all her pieces.

Platero said she has two symbols that identify her work.

She always paints pieces involving women and there is always a heart in it.

"I feel like the heart goes through a lot of stages in life. I really just paint a lot of feelings that I feel and I paint images that represent those feelings the best way they could," Platero said.

"What's cool about her art is it appeals to different types of communities for different reasons. It's cross-cultured," Encinias said. "I think a lot of people can identify with it."

Platero said painting is her outlet because it allows her to express her emotions through different images.

"I have a lot of ideas and I am a very creative person. With painting there is no dead end," she said.

"I think it has a lot of emotions," Platero said about what makes her artwork standout. "I can't paint just a happy woman standing there. I have to put in all these different imagery of other things that could show all these expressions."

In addition to her art, Platero is an activist.

She was recently selected to become one of 15 women to serve on the Young Women of Color Leadership Council to educate and advocate on health issues.

Platero said she was selected out of 75 other women who applied to be a part of this organization.

"I love activist work. That's something I have always been inspired by. Taking the incentive to act for the community has always been something I loved as well as my art and being a parent," she said.

Platero said her artwork and passion for activism stems from being a victim of sexual assault.

"I never got the opportunity to express what I've been through," said Platero.

She recalled an experience she had with an organization called "Young Women United," where "everyone sat in a circle and we all decided to talk."

Platero said the women shared their stories of sexual assault.

"That was an eye-opening experience, to meet other women that have been through what I have…that pulled me in and I continued to go," she said.

"I really like my art and what I show people is really about healing and growing," Platero said. "I'm a liver of love. I really just believe that a lot of people tend to forget how to love one another and really that's what my paintings are about. It all comes back to love."

Encinias said that Platero's artwork is "authentic…It's empowering visually."

Platero's art exhibit will be on display until Saturday at the The El Chante: Casa de Cultura Art Gallery, which is open Thursdays from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m., Saturdays from 9:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., and Sunday from noon to 5 p.m.

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