Make It Your Own Mural Fest to begin Tuesday, Sept. 8 in Huntington

Huntington native America Carrillo poses in front of a mural she painted for free on the side of The Brick House building in downtown Huntington. She completed the mural in July, and will begin work on another larger mural, located at 35 W. Market St., as part of the Make It Your Own Mural Fest initiative in northeast Indiana. She will paint the Make It Your Own Mural from Sept. 8 to Sept. 18.
Huntington native America Carrillo poses in front of a mural she painted for free on the side of The Brick House building in downtown Huntington. She completed the mural in July, and will begin work on another larger mural, located at 35 W. Market St., as part of the Make It Your Own Mural Fest initiative in northeast Indiana. She will paint the Make It Your Own Mural from Sept. 8 to Sept. 18. Photo provided.

Make I­t Your Own Mural Fest starts tomorrow, Tuesday, Sept. 8, and will last until Sept. 18, in Northeast Indiana’s 11 counties, including Huntington.

The regional mural festival concept is intended to enhance the region’s efforts to drive and attract talent and tourism by investing in public art.

Over the 11 days, 11 artists will install a high-quality mural in each of the 11 counties.

In Huntington, America Carrillo will create her masterpiece at 35 W. Market St., Huntington.

Carrillo is a Huntington native who has been traveling the nation, and parts of the globe, pursuing and creating art. Most recently, she created a mural on the side of The Brick House restaurant in downtown Huntington. The work was donated by Carrillo in exchange for creative freedom. She said she wanted to do something fun for a small business that had been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

She decided to paint a mural inspired by the famous “Toy Story” movie franchise, and was dually inspired because one of the restaurant’s owners is named Andy – a defining character in the films.

Carrillo’s journey into art is not traditional, but is nonetheless inspiring.

She says, “I started painting murals pretty much right after I finished college. I never went to college for fine art but I became obsessed with following other mural artists on social media and eventually in real life.

“My first internship was with John Pugh. I moved in to my car to be able to afford to spend weeks helping John install a mural in Minneapolis. I even drove 26 hours from Indiana to Arizona to buy ‘Mural Joe’ a cup of coffee. I watched him paint for a week.

“I found the best artists I could and followed them around and even taped them painting. Then I just started painting my own one day. It felt natural after seeing other artists do it.”

Carrillo says her experience as an artist has been surreal.

“I’m always trying things I don’t know how to do yet, and I have to push past my own inner critique often. It’s been so amazing to look back at my past work to see the growth.”

Carrillo says she feels she was chosen to paint the Make It Your Own Mural because her concept was interesting.

“I also spent a lot of time journaling about the contest as if I had already won weeks prior to winning,” she explains, “This is a manifestation technique I use often.”

After she is done with the Make It Your Own Mural, Carrillo says she will continue on with her goal to paint a mural in all 50 states.

“I live in my van and travel the United States, and I plan on doing that until I reach my goal,” she explains. “It could probably take a few years since I paint about a mural a month.

“I’d also like to paint a skyscraper.

“I want to create an iconic mural that people travel to and get their picture taken with.

“I’d like to write a book about my travels.”

Carrillo says she has painted murals in 11 different states, and in Chile and Argentina.

She is proud of her accomplishments, and looking back, describes her most notable work.

“I’ve installed a mural with John Pugh,” she says. “I once finished a mural even though I had been to the hospital three times that week and was really sick.

“I am most proud of the mural I painted in Utah because it was my first time painting hands. They were giant 20-foot hands, and I really had to level up to pull them off.

“Painting in Huntington was amazing because I know I made my grandpa really proud.

“My family loves my work so putting something up in my hometown was a big deal.

“I know my kindergarten teacher Mrs. Kelley was excited too.”

Carrillo says, “Any time I can inspire someone is an accomplishment.”

Her Make It Your Own Mural work will be celebrated in a socially-distanced meet-and-greet style event at the location of the mural.

More information about the meet-and-greet can be found at the Mural Fest website, neindiana.com/mural-festival.

Carrillo’s webpage is artbyamerica.com.