Southwest mural artists find inspiration in popular culture, social justice issues, and their own cultural heritage. Here’s a look at ten artists and what makes their work unique.
The Southwest is home to an eclectic assortment of murals, street art, and graffiti art created by artists working in a vast array of styles from surrealism to geometric minimalism. Here’s a look at ten artists based in Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, and Texas. Collectively, they offer insights into the creative landscape of the Southwest, where their work is shaped by social justice issues, popular culture, the natural world, and their own cultural heritage.
Denver-based artist Anna Charney creates exterior and interior aerosol murals, in addition to installation pieces and acrylic on canvas paintings. Charney’s mural works reflect her fondness for optical illusion, patterns of graphic dots, and bending forms. The artist, who holds a BFA in painting and drawing from the Art Institute of Chicago, describes her work as “digital taffy.” Follow Charney @annacharneyart on Instagram.
Born in Chicago to artist parents who hailed from South America, Denver-based creative Sandra Fettingis seeks to integrate her artworks with the built and natural environments that surround them. Using line work that reflects her passion for abstraction, geometric minimalism, and repetition, the artist seeks to “generate meditative yet dynamic patterns.” Follow Fettingis @sandrafettingis on Instagram.
Based in Jemez Pueblo, New Mexico, Indigenous artist Jaque Fragua draws from traditional Native American iconography, which becomes a way to conceptually subvert the “overconsumption of misappropriated Native American design and identity.” Fragua cites eclectic influences such as historical trauma, popular culture, and spiritual wisdom. Find Fragua’s work at mobilsavage.com.
Informed by her Latina, Apache, and Comanche heritage, artist Jodie Herrera creates murals and other works exploring intersectional feminism, which are designed to “connect and uplift all women” while prompting positive change. Based in Albuquerque, New Mexico, the artist is currently focusing her practice on resilience amid trauma and the refugee/immigrant experience. Follow Herrera @chromaj on Instagram.
Josef Kristofoletti, an artist based in Austin, Texas, specializes in large-scale, site-specific murals that elevate the intersection of painting with architecture and public space. His murals train the eye on line, color, and form. Delivering bold geometrical abstractions, the artist prompts reflection on the relationship between human bodies and manufactured landscapes. Follow Kristofoletti @josefkristo on Instagram.
A self-described nomad based in Phoenix, Arizona, Ashley Macias creates surrealistic paintings and murals that capture her fascination with human psychology, the natural world, and the geographies that have informed her own experience and identity. The artist cites myriad influences, including psychedelia, cosmic dreams, sexuality, and abstract imagery. Find Macias’s work at ashleymacias.com.
Thomas “Breeze” Marcus
Based in Phoenix, artist Thomas “Breeze” Marcus channels his Akimel and Tohono O’odham cultural heritage in murals, acrylic paintings, and pen and ink drawings featuring interlocking geometric designs that reference coil-woven baskets. Marcus often collaborates with other artists, who have included Lalo Cato, Dwayne Manuel, Miles MacGregor (aka “El Mac”), and Vyal One. Follow “Breeze” @breeze1phx on Instagram.
Originally from Lima, Peru, the self-taught artist who goes by Niz specializes in large-scale stencil murals and in portraiture. She’s based in Austin, Texas, where her work often addresses social and psychological issues. Niz cites several influences in her creative practice, including Latin American culture and urban life, and is a member of an international all-female crew called Few and Far. Follow Niz @elenizzle on Instagram.
Artist Joerael Numina is based in Santa Fe, New Mexico, where his art practice includes murals designed to “transform and activate spaces and energy.” Themes prevalent in his work include justice, inclusivity, allyship, and resilience. Numina founded a project called Mobilize Walls, which addresses issues related to the United States-Mexico border. Follow Numina @joerael.art on Instagram.
Chip Thomas, who uses the creative moniker “Jetsonorama,” is a Black physician and artist working on the Navajo Nation, where he launched the Painted Desert Project that features murals by myriad artists. Taking inspiration from Eugene Smith, Diego Rivera, Keith Haring, and others, Thomas transforms black-and-white documentary photographs into wheatpaste-style murals imbued with storytelling. Follow Thomas @jetsonorama on Instagram.