Lilia Reynoso has only been making art for three years, but in the short time since she started pouring her creativity onto canvas, the Decoto native has left an indelible imprint on Union City.
Most notably, her art is currently on display in select BART trains via an art contest organized by Health Through Art, a Bay Area community health advocacy project.
Though she was among a handful of winners selected last year, the poster of her painting has only been on display since August, she said.
She said the only requirement for entering the contest was that the submission must promote healthy communities — already a topic of concern for Reynoso — and contain some sort of slogan. She came up with: “Know Culture, Know Community, Know Self, No hate.”
“As long as all of these things are there — when you know your culture and community — and when there’s love in the community, people who act from love are created,” she said.
The vibrant painting depicts a person with her heart exposed, the veins leading to drums, which symbolize passion and the heartbeat, she said. A BART train runs through both drums, serving as a nod to our Bay Area community. Beneath that lies flower growing from a seed with a heart in it.
“With love, beauty blossoms in a community,” she said.
While Reynoso’s raw, natural talent is apparent, she represents something greater — she’s an example that if you’re passionate and dedicated about what you do, you can achieve great things.
She came into the art game later than some. She’d never received any formal art training, and her family couldn’t afford art supplies when she was young, she said.
Instead, fresh out of college at 22, she found herself unemployed with time to spare. She picked up a paintbrush and hasn’t put it down since.
She took up private lessons with local muralist Enrique Romero, who also serves on the Public Art Board and has been involved in local projects, such as the community garden mural alongside the Teen Workshop.
“He taught me the basics and I just kind of ran with it,” she said.
Having been exposed to art later in life is what motivates Reynoso to work with youth in the community.
“The reason why I’ve been doing community projects is because I feel like I could be so much further in my art if I started at a younger age,” she said. “For me, it’s very important to provide that outlet for young people so that they’re able to develop their artistic abilities. It’s something they can do instead of being on the streets.”
Reynoso leads mural projects, working primarily with youth at Conley Caraballo High School. She also painted a mural at and earlier this year .
At Conley Caraballo, she helped students develop murals centered on themes of empowerment. The first mural explored what it means to be a positive woman in society, the second centered on healthy living and the third, which is currently in the works, revolves around knowledge.
“I try to add a meaning behind every painting,” Reynoso said.
Many of her pieces contain strong images of women, often with Mayan and Aztec goddesses.
“Women aren’t always depicted well in art. They’re often sexualized and objectified,” she said.
Reynoso says the need for creating art with the purpose of empowerment is due to how she was raised.
“I was raised in a family that was strong on giving back to your community and always being good to community and others,” she said.
While Reynoso is currently trying to receive a credential to teach chemistry, she said she’ll always continue to make art and be involved in the community.
“It’s actually been a very spiritual kind of route for me. I’ve always been creative and artistic in one way or another. I feel like everything has come together,” she said. “This is the route I’m sticking with.”