Sebastian Rivera Cintron is a muralist and an NHCC Class of 2016 alum. While taking art courses at NHCC, Sebastian became President of Student Senate. This involvement helped him to figure out what he wanted to do with his life. After graduation, Sebastian worked with the City of Brooklyn Park as an Organizer. Today Sebastian works as a muralist and is pursuing his arts career. Find out how Sebastian created a ‘healing’ mural for NHCC’s CARE Center in the Q&A below!
How did you get involved with NHCC’s mural project?
I had a conversation with Dr. Garcia and Lindsay Fort about the changes that were happening in the Campus Center at NHCC. They wanted alum feedback and they brought up painting. I said something like, ‘Hey, I do murals now!’ They called me back a few months later and we talked about the campus atmosphere.
How long does it take you to do a mural?
It depends. Usually, it takes up to four to five weeks. But the reality is, that I'm spending only three to four days out of the week working on the wall. A mural takes anywhere from 28 to 35 hours total.
Your mural is inside NHCC right by the CARE Center entrances, right?
Correct, yeah. It’s on the hallway side by the CARE Center.
How did the vision for the mural happen?
The message for the mural was healing and I feel like, often in our society we're taught to push through quite a lot and that’s not cool. I wanted to create a space that could pull people in, so they could feel like they're being healed. I made the mural in a way that, it could be continuous. If you see it from one angle, it could seem like it's just a long road. Or, if you happen to catch it in the middle, it pulls you in and tells you a story.
What’s the first step to starting a mural?
At first, I sent a questionnaire to all of the CARE Center workers and some of the student workers. I asked them simple questions like, ‘How do you feel when you come to campus?’ ‘What are the things that you would like to see on campus?’ A lot of folks said they like to go out to trails, or go into nature to relieve their stress and feel better. I thought, might as well bring nature inside, if the outdoors are where we feel serene.
What imagery did you use to depict healing?
I used a lot of green and blue. I painted water and springs in the middle panel. There’s a waterfall and some folks sitting/meditating. I left it a little ambiguous, because some folks use meditation as a way that they bring themselves down. And other folks just like to sit and listen to music. I painted people hugging too. I was really specific in showing a woman wearing a hijab being hugged. Often in a lot of Islamic cultures, women do not touch men. But I have seen that in hard and difficult moments, all people need a hug. The rest of the imagery, was people walking. Healing often comes with movement. The way I think about it at times, is when you stub your toe, you usually kind of walk it off afterward, right? Most people don't stand still. I also wanted to bring in a lot of people from different cultures and geographical areas from our state. Folks come to NHCC from the north suburbs and from the cities. People coming together is healing.
Do you have a signature, or some kind of way people can tell the mural is yours?
Yes, it's my Instagram handle. It's @SARC.
What was your favorite part of this mural project?
I think my favorite part was actually the questionnaire in the beginning. Getting to ask questions and see the perspectives of people who work within the institution. Learning how they see themselves in their environment. I love sending sketches back to people with their goals in mind. It’s very rewarding and makes you to enjoy your craft quite a lot. Knowing that the mural will be there forever and people will see it and make their own ideas about it makes me excited. To think that my art could impact someone is more than enough.