Yet to come
CF grad Carla Gonzalez painted the new mural on the fine arts building’s exterior wall and is ready to rule the world.
At 21, Carla Gonzalez has already been a painter for more than half her life.
The College of Central Florida (CF) graduate designed and painted the new work “Artists Rule the World” at CF’s Dassance Fine Arts Center.
“With this mural, I wanted to celebrate the power of art, bring people together and create a sense of community,” Gonzalez said in her artist statement.
Funded by a CF Foundation New Initiative Grant, the work is painted in the school’s red-and-blue colors and displays a variety of icons representing the various courses in visual and performing arts offered at CF.
“While it may not be accurate to say artists rule the world, it is certainly true that art and artists have the power to shape our perception, challenge our assumptions and inspire us to think and act differently,” Gonzalez said.
“I’ve been sketching since I was about 6, and when I was 10, my grandpa put me in art classes. He took me to those lessons every weekend,” she shared.
Her family moved to Silver Springs from Cuba in 2017. Both she and her sister, Camila, earn a living as dental assistants.
Gonzalez won best of show in the 2021 CF Student Art Exhibition for her drawing “Bangtan Boys,” a graphite illustration inspired by the Korean pop sensation BTS. She also won two honorable mentions in the exhibition.
“Artists Rule the World” measures around 7.3 feet wide x 25.6 feet high. To work on the upper portions, Gonzalez had to climb aboard a scissor lift, which she described as scary at first. Her boyfriend, Bryan Oliva, also an artist, sat on the opposite side of the platform to lend support and a little ballast.
“I had a lot of fun with it, and after the first five days, I was getting the hang of it,” the artist told the “Gazette” during a phone call from Mexico City.
Though Gonzalez was born and raised in Havana, Cuba, she visits Mexico often, this time with her sister, Camila, to visit an aunt who lives there. Another aunt and their grandmother traveled from Cuba to meet up with them.
“We are a close family,” she said, explaining why she goes often.
Though the plane ticket is more expensive to Mexico City, the “difficult situation in Cuba” makes it cheaper overall to come here instead, Gonzalez explained. But she and her family also travel to Cuba to visit her grandfather, who chooses to stay put.
“He’s already traveled the world and he doesn’t really wanna do that anymore,” she said with a laugh.
Thanks to her repatriated aunt, Gonzalez grew up “surrounded by Mexican culture.” Artist Frida Kahlo, born in the borough of Coyoacán, has influenced her as an artist and inspired her as a woman. One of Gonzalez’s most striking paintings, “Chavela y Frida” depicts the artist with companion Chavela Vargas and captures Kahlo, who suffered from debilitating pain caused by a bus accident, during one of the happier, more serene moments of her life.
Gonzalez, fortunately, hasn’t endured such a calamity. Her father, a truck driver, prompted the family to move after learning about the area from friends. Her mother taught at a Montessori school before the COVID-19 lockdown, and now she assists her husband with dispatch and administrative tasks.
Gonzalez loves visiting Manhattan and its museums, but she also enjoys nature and quiet times. On weekends, she and Oliva explore nature together and enjoy sketching at Silver Springs State Park and the Ocala National Forest.
Her parents, she said, have a lot to do with why she’s persevered as an artist and will continue to do so.
From her mother, she inherited her work ethic and a commitment to lifelong learning.
“From my father,” she said, “I learned never to give up,” she said. “I really do not give up. I like trying everything and I’m not scared of trying and failing. I’m okay with that, and he is like that. He will try something and then if it doesn’t work out, he’s going to be like, ‘Okay, well I, at least I tried.’ And that’s what I do, especially with my art.”
To learn more about Carla Gonzalez, visit instagram.com/carlasinazucar. For more information about CF’s visual and Performing arts department, visit CF.edu/VPA. To learn more about the CF Foundation’s New Initiative Grant, visit CF.edu/Foundation.