How Nuria Ortiz Transformed Her Art into a Tool for Change

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Photo courtesy of Spectrum News.

Nuria Ortiz can’t remember a time in her life without art. Like so many other professionals who have made their passion a job, Ortiz, a.k.a. Ms. Yellow, has achieved success as a muralist through the conviction of her art’s impact.

Born in 1987 in Long Beach, California, Ortiz learned from an early age to explore culture, folklore, sisterhood, and social justice through the color palette.

“I don’t remember a moment without art at all. It’s something that has been in me since I met life,” she told NBC Los Angeles. “I really had this passion since I was like three years old. I started graffiti when I was 12 years old, and from then on, I didn’t stop.”

The streets of Los Angeles and Mexico would open her eyes to a whole style of street art that Ortiz would make her own through murals.

As she said in an interview with Voyage L.A., growing up with dyslexia and facing obstacles to communication, the language of comics and wordless cartoons helped her find her language movement.

“No words ever needed,” she said. “So my art became my diary. An extension of myself.”

Street Art, Muralism and Transformation

Like many artists learning to use aerosol on the streets, Ortiz lived painting at night, challenging the limits of authority. But by the time she was 20 years old, there were more canvases painted at home than walls on the streets.

It was then that the artist began “to take it seriously.”

“I welcome Intimidation from walls I paint. I welcome fear because only then do I know that I am being pushed past my limit to create something beyond my dreams — an evolution of the mind, body, and craft. I never went to art school, but I taught myself everything I know. It is my 1st and truest loves. My obsession with it and with colors is what pushed me to the position I am now,” she explained to Voyage L.A.

Enter Social Engagement

The young Mexican-American artist’s early life experiences inevitably led her to an interest in helping her community.

With personal and artistic maturity came the need to give back to the streets that saw her grow up, and it was then that she began teaching art workshops. Nuria Ortiz has mentored youth in boys and girls clubs, schools, and community centers. Her artwork and murals have been exhibited in museums, galleries, and streets throughout the United States and abroad in Australia, Egypt, France, Japan, Mexico, and Spain.

“I try to help, to teach what I do with my art to the community so that they can do more with it,” she told NBC Los Angeles. “I go to different countries to teach. I travel, I paint murals, and I work with different communities.”

Using her artistic skills, Ortiz is dedicated to sending a positive message to women around the world. She says she uses her skills and knowledge to empower women, for whom art can often serve as emotional therapy.

Today, Nuria Ortiz is decorating a truck for Angel City F.C., a new women’s soccer team in Los Angeles.