Installation view of “Black Girl Magic” (2021) by Criola


DOWNTOWN LAS VEGAS is infused with public art, including a powerful portrait of a Black Brazilian woman rendered against a graphic, patterned backdrop. Towering high above 7th Street at Stewart Avenue, “Black Girl Magic” is a pair of murals recently installed by Taina Lima, the artist known as Criola. The project was commissioned by JustKids, a women-led platform focused on art and creative placemaking.

Since 2013, JustKids has been participating in the Life is Beautiful festival, curating murals, sculpture, and installation projects. Canceled in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the festival of music, food, and art returned to the heart of downtown Las Vegas this year (Sept. 17-19).

Criola was among the local, national, and international artists invited by JustKids to create new works for the event. “Black Girl Magic” marks her artistic debut in the United States. The murals are installed in front of The Art Motel on the facade of the El Cortez parking garage building. JustKids said the project would be on view for a couple of years.

An Afro-Brazilian artist from Belo Horizonte, Minas Gerais state, Criola lives in São Paulo, where she is part of a new generation of Brazilian artists using urban art to confront racism and state repression.

The feminine universe is central to her images. She is also inspired by spirituality and ancestral matrix cultures. Criola started painting in college. She studied fashion design at Federal University of Minas Gerais (UFMG) and has an affinity for rap music and local MC battles, key experiences visible in her work.

“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,” Criola said in Q&A with JustKids.

“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.” CT


IMAGE: Above right, Portrait of Criola. | Courtesy JustKids


FIND MORE about Criola on Instagram


CRIOLA, Detail of “Black Girl Magic,” 2021. | © Criola, Courtesy JustKids


CRIOLA, Installation view of “Black Girl Magic,” 2021, Las Vega, Nev. | © Criola, Courtesy JustKids


CRIOLA, Installation view of “Black Girl Magic,” 2021, Las Vega, Nev. | © Criola, Courtesy JustKids


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