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Meet Christina Curiel

Today we’d like to introduce you to Christina Curiel.

Christina was destined for success when graduating Valedictorian from MiraCosta College in 2006 with a full scholarship to University of California Berkeley and as a professional in the music industry. Unfortunately, after completing a first bachelor’s degree in 2009, she became ill with a rare autoimmune disease that almost caused death and severe debilitation. Because of lack of family and financial issues, Christina spent a lot of time living on the streets and sleeping outside as a sick, unwanted “homeless” person. After the greatest struggle of her life, she was able to rebuild her life with a new family. Christina found the pursuit of art to be a wonderful therapy for past traumas and something that was very compatible with a limiting condition disability. She works with the community painting murals for San Diego cities, such as Ocean Beach, Vista, and Oceanside and volunteering to teach music and art classes to elementary school students. The life experiences of living on the street, illness, and other traumatic events usually shapes the content of her artwork. Christina thankful beyond belief to have been gifted by the communities of San Diego a career in the arts and a new beginning at life.

Please tell us about your art.
As a professional in the music industry, sound has and always will be Christina’s ultimate medium. A multi-instrumentalist, she is a composer for film and before a career in art was a classical composition instructor. Due to the popularity of her visual art, however, this is what she is recognized for. Christina paints in oil on panels that she builds herself. It is not often you’ll see a 95-pound blonde in the lumber section of a hardware store waiting on the panel saw. Calling ahead to make sure the saw (like a McDonald’s Ice Cream Machine) is not broken, Christina heads to the lumber department and selects some panels and some strip boards cut with a miter saw purchased secondhand and builds a panel to size. Next, she mounts pellon, a synthetic woven interfacing (purchased on large rolls in the garment district of LAm pellon is the white material that you find sew into furniture, hats, stiff lining in shirts, etc.), on the board with gesso, a fine art painting primer. After a couple layers of sanding and priming, the panel is ready for fine art. Selecting the image comes beforehand.

“Something persistent and negative weighing on my present from my past begins to overtake my consciousness, dreams, and overall awareness. The negative feelings from death and violence, oppression and nihilistic sadness from my past recur in the worst possible moment and I cannot escape them. I imagine a scenario in which I can describe the feeling, an image that can convey the feeling entirely. I collect the items needed to create a ‘set’ and the figures are often volunteering from friends or family, I pose them, and I photograph them. As I paint the image, it feels like a transference of the heavy emotional weight from my awareness away from me into the painting. It’s like a ‘negativity extraction process’ that works like magic, and when the painting is complete, the feeling has almost vanished, almost as if its trapped inside the artwork.”

After they are photographed, the photos are edited on the computer and printed. The printout is then gridded to the exact specifications of the panel and the image is drawn on the panel. First, the background is painted in a dark brown to outline the major shapes as well as the values of light and dark in the painting. After these steps, a very slow process of adding color and perfecting the image until it is ready to be shown at a gallery.

We often hear from artists that being an artist can be lonely. Any advice for those looking to connect with other artists?
Being an artist is a lonely experience. Christina is thankful to work as an assistant in an oil painting class at the local community college, and to be perpetually involved the local cities as a public art representative. Taking classes at a private or public art school can help unite a lonely artist with other artists of a like mind. Also, murals often require the help of more than one artist. Making plans with other artists to work together as a collaboration on larger pieces is another way to keep from feeling lonely in the profession. Every now and then, Christina will have an art party potluck where all artists are invited to paint on a removable mural on the wall, and will often hold critiques with friends. Most cities have a local art association that you can join for a minimal fee; and libraries often have a local art gallery for prospective artists.

Christina recently became a permanent member of the art installation team at the local library simply from volunteering to help hang the shows. The best way to keep from being lonely as an artist is to balance the lonely independent work with being out in the community or inviting other people to join you in your processes. This is how Christina was introduced to the profession of art, by an invitation to participate in an art event hosted by a local business offering space for artists to show and create!

How or where can people see your work? How can people support your work?
People can follow Christina’s work online by going to her website,, or following her on Instagram where you can see more of her processes and mural work Here, you can see the local museums or galleries and events in which Christina will be featured as well as locations of ongoing murals. You can support your local artists by going to the commissioner’s meetings on public art in your city and supporting fundraisers for murals or voting for more public art projects that are mural-based.

You can also support our local artists by offering them a space to show their art… with rising costs of space rentals, more people have been reluctant to open galleries. More public art spaces in San Diego can make our community a welcoming, intellectual and culturally appreciative place for the people who live here.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
1. self 2.self 3. oil painting from my website, self. 4.Alley Art Festival, Michelle Kinley 5.oil painting from my website, self 6.. interview at Escondido Center for the Arts, self 7. Farm to Frame reception, by @ Robert Sommers 2018 (website and 8. Ocean Beach beautification project, self.

Getting in touch: SDVoyager is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you know someone who deserves recognition please let us know here.

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