Colors and values: The ‘artivist’ Criola uses cans of paint to empower black women in the streets of Belo Horizonte



Note from BW of Brazil: As we have seen in a number of previous posts over the past few years, black people are using a number of different methods to express themselves and bring exposure to the Afro-Brazilian experience. The mainstream media and so many areas of the society prefer to portray the nation as European, which is completely in line with elites’ stated goals at the end of 19th century. But through genres such as theater, literature, fashion and even advertising, Brazilians of African descent continue to scream, battle and push to show the world that they exist and something to say. The artist we feature today is yet another who is continuing this struggle in her own unique way. 

Colors and values

By Camila Eiroa | Photos by Athos Souza

The ‘artivist’ Criola – as she defines herself – uses cans of paint to empower black women in the streets of Belo Horizonte


The mural above was painted by Taina Lima and executed in partnership with her friend Lídia, in Belo Horizonte. Better known as Criola the 25 year old grafiteira (graffiti artists) explores colors and quite Brazilian elements in her graffiti. She also makes of urban art her political struggle to strengthen black women.

The graffiti and street expressions drew attention of the Minas Gerais native even as a child. In 2008, at age 18, she enrolled in an art school and, a little later, in 2012, began to create her own paintings. She says that graffiti was the kind of art that was closest to her reality of life: “It goes where conventional art doesn’t dare to go where the state only acts to suppress.”


Raised in the periferia (city outskirts), she says that she’s has suffered a lot of prejudice for having cabelo crespo (kinky/curly hair), especially in childhood. This reflects completely in her designs that explore the image of black women. “I believe that graffiti, for being marginal, is a powerful weapon to enforce this representation. The figure of the black woman is strong in my work because it is the fruit of what I experience,” she says.

Ending prejudice is the greatest weapon of Taina’s graffiti. “Since early on they made us believe that our hair is feio (ugly), that it’s duro (hard) and difficult to care for. What did we do then? We hid it to be accepted,” she reflects. The inspiration for her designs comes from women who cross the path of the artist. For her, “every woman is a universe of feelings. Beautiful and strong at the same time.”


  • “If before they enslaved black physically today we have a mental enslavement, through the imposition of an aesthetic that does not match 99% of Brazilians.”

About her inspirations, she cites the Brazilian flora (plants/vegetation) and the cultural diversity that exists in Brazil. The Indian, the black, the prayers and urban legends. All this serves as food so that Tainá creates her drawings, full of color and strong references, which certainly didn’t go unnoticed by whoever crosses the gray city.


Will this help to change people’s thinking? The grafiteira has no doubts. For her, “the scenario is changing. Black women are loving themselves more, are more conscious of their origin and of their power and role as protagonists of their own history.”

Source: Revista TPM

About Marques Travae 3747 Articles
Marques Travae. For more on the creator and editor of BLACK WOMEN OF BRAZIL, see the interview here.

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