Betsy Z. Casañas
Artist, Activist, and Educator
Betsy Casañas is a visual and public artist, an educator, a community activist, and an organizer. She is the director of A Seed on Diamond Gallery (S.O.D.) and founder of Semilla Arts Initiative. Casañas has 27 years of experience in the arts and has created over 50 murals worldwide.
"As a Latina artist who has been working with communities of color around the world, I understand the importance of the people within these communities, and the artwork which reflects leaders in these communities. Too often we have been depicted on social media, news and television in a negative light, and as second class citizens who should be feared. I believe it is our obligation as artists to reflect on the times we are living in, and to highlight the people's story, to change the narrative that has been created for us. By normalizing and humanizing our collective stories, we create communities that are more tolerant."
Semilla Arts Initiative
Semilla Arts is a grassroots initiative that uses art as a catalyst for social change, and artistic collaboration as a means of empowering individuals and strengthening communities. Collaborative art is a process more accessible to a larger audience. It has a set goal that addresses the needs and conditions of its participants. It embodies multiple visions working towards a common goal. Collaboration within a community setting inevitably acts as a “Semilla” for changing social circumstances. It creates a safe, nurturing environment that cultivates self-esteem, creativity, dignity and respect. It empowers the community with a voice, preserves culture, establishes strong communities that reflect positive attitudes, builds skills, and awakens talent found in its members. Semilla’s goal is to unite the community by actively involving them in the process of physically transforming their own neighborhood and by exposing them to solutions and possibilities. The vitality of any community can be found in the strength and stability of its members, and in their ability to overcome the complexity of today.
A Seed on Diamond Gallery
The gallery’s interest lie in creating an alternative space where artists of all communities and cultural backgrounds can share a space and tell their stories through music, spoken word, dance and Visual Art. The gallery has a special interest in community arts, fine arts, education and collaboration and the direct impact that all can have in the transformation and evolution of an individual and the communities they inhabit. Artists have the capacity of mobilizing a community and becoming a voice for those who have been silenced. It is my hope to continue to bring art to the community and to create art with the community. Only when our communities are exposed to all the opportunities before them can they envision the possibilities for change and growth.
Urban Arts Festivals
During an Urban Art Festival a group of graffiti and mural artists are invited to paint large scale murals in a section of a neighborhood with the intention of transforming it dramatically. The festivals usually last one to two weeks sometimes longer and invite anywhere from ten to three hundred artists from around the globe. The reasons for the festivals vary depending on the group but one commonality is to bring the work to the streets and to the people.