Frontera Fund News

Don’t Miss: Murals and Art Show Empower Immigrant Communities

Mata Ruda Painting

A new immigration-focused artist brightens Phoenix’s mural scene.

Phoenix’s flourishing mural scene will get a new splash of creativity now that Mata Ruda – an internationally known muralist who specializes in immigration and social justice issues – has moved to the Valley. 

Mata Ruda is best known locally for his stunning mural on Grand Avenue honoring migrants who died crossing the U.S.-Mexico border. Lacey and Larkin Frontera Fund wrote about the fascinating story behind the collaborative mural, which was commissioned by our friends at Colibrí Center for Human Rights, here.

Colibri mural

The 26-year-old, whose real name is Karlito Miller Espinosa, was born in San Jose, Costa Rica; grew up briefly in Caracas, Venezuela; and immigrated to the U.S. with his family at age 11. Most recently, he lived in New York and New Jersey. He moved to Avondale, Arizona both to be with his girlfriend (whom he met while painting the Grand Avenue mural) and to contribute creatively to the state that has become ground zero for immigration issues. 

His paintings and murals, he says, “empower immigrant and overlooked communities and cultures.”

The artist recently completed a mural in Phoenix’s Coronado District titled Más Allá, or “beyond.” The piece depicts a Latina woman gazing up at the moon and dreaming of the universe beyond. (You can see it on the wall of Swiss Metal Works, at 2345 N. 10th St., Phoenix.)

Mata Ruda mural
Mata Ruda’s first solo show took place in March at The Hive, a quirky art gallery-slash-coffee shop nearby (2222 N. 16th St., Phoenix). His paintings include many altar-style pieces that superimpose landscapes over portraits, revealing how the places we come from and the places we dream about are part of us.

Mata Ruda altar piece