We had the good fortune of connecting with Christina Carmel and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Christina Carmel, can you walk us through the thought-process of starting your business?
Ever since I was a little girl, I always knew I wanted to make a real difference in the world. I earned a degree in special education and spent about the first decade of my adult career teaching – mostly in inner city schools. I always loved art, but I kept it neatly in the background of my life. Art was my sacred sanctuary I turned to when I needed to relax or unwind. It wasn’t until a few years ago when a friend asked me to paint some dogs in outfits (clearly not what I do now – but still adorable) that I realized my heart needed me to devote more time and energy into my art. Slowly, I allowed art to take up more space in my life, but not too much. I was worried about leaving my career in special education because I thought it was the only way I could make real difference. A few years ago though, I mustered up all of my brave and decided to give my art career a real shot. Every time someone stands in front a piece of my work with tears in their eyes because they saw the things they hid about themselves celebrated as beautiful, as enough, I knew I had made the right decision. I’ve learned that art was the reason I was put here, the way I was born to make a difference. I create art that connects us and celebrates our collective human story. The joy, the pain, the loss, the confusion, the elation – the things that truly connect us. And who doesn’t need a little more connection in their life right now?
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
I always say that my art is “statement storytelling with soul, and inclusive art with heart.” It’s descriptions are not littered with fancy art-world jargon because it’s simple. My art is about us. Unfiltered and unafraid. My collectors are a super precious squad of change-makers who value meaning, depth, inclusion, and real experiences. I create mixed media portraits that celebrate the human experience, including surprise elements of collage such as poetry I write that is inspired by the pieces, song lyrics, or photos. I also include hidden elements celebrating my home state of Arizona in almost all of my works. On top of originals, I also create custom portraits of the people you hold most dear.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
For sake of this question, I am going to pretend that it is already 2022 and we are no longer dealing with COVID-19! (Otherwise, we would be Netflixing, chilling and enjoying being in each other’s physical company!) In normal times, I would first take my friend to go get the original chopped salad at The Gladly. Then, I would encourage her to come to a spin or lifting class at Blaksteel Fitness. Camelback Mountain, Tom’s Thumb and Papago Park are all also must-visits for me! To wind down, I would take her to Thai Long-An in Central Phoenix for some killer Pumpkin Panang curry. If we felt like getting really crazy, we might even hit up Bar Smith, but most likely would stay home and have a chill game night with friends and family.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
Definitely Rob Gentile of The Grand Arthaus. He has created such a beautiful space where artists can come together as a collective to connect and create. I made some of my favorite pieces inside of the Grand Arthaus! He has also been such an amazing mentor to be, by teaching me how to apply for grants and public arts opportunities.
Photo Credit: Britta Moburg