Using the Power of Paint and Pink Bunnies to Fight for Change
La reina de los conejos.
She is happy and eccentric. As she climbs up the ladder, she sprays her last minute touches onto her mural dedicated to one of many communities with whom she has worked. With confidence and poised, she continues to use the imagery of her pink bunnies on a canvas to share awareness and truth throughout society.
Growing up in Valencia, Spain, Barbara Sebastian, 44, also know as Barbiturikills or Barbi, received her Bachelor’s degree in Fine Arts and her Master’s degree in Graphic Design at Polytechnic University of Valencia. She started working as an in-house graphic designer, but she wanted more.
“If I wasn’t painting, I would be involved in the movie industry, making movies. I like to tell stories. I’ve worked for years designing for others. I reached a point where I decided I would earn less money and focus on painting,” said Barbi.
“I created the bunny, because it is simple to create and I can express love, but it also represents a story within the concept on how I feel, childhood traumas and symbols of social injustice,” said Barbi.
Her father was a photographer and Barbi had easy access to his material. Even though she enjoyed photography, her love for paint was much stronger. By releasing her thoughts with a stroke of a brush at school, she illustrated what was going on.
Her mom died at a young age and her family moved several times after that. She drew at school to express her feelings and also discovered that no one had an active role in feminism. Once she became an adult she saw the inequalities.
“Feminism for me is a fight, a fight for a place in society. It’s a constant fight. Women are badly represented in society. Violence and inequality are two big problems,” she said.
She first witnessed it when she discovered the glass ceiling in her class. By helping a colleague with his photography final exam, she discovered that he received a better grade than her. She went to speak with the professor and his response was,
“It was evident who was doing your assignments” Barbi said.
After that incident, she noticed the injustice against woman, meanwhile she built relationships with graffiti artists at the university. She didn’t feel she had to prove herself to build her name by surrounding herself with genuine and admirable people in the XLF crew; Her main focus was to paint these fun, innocent bunnies and create a story.
“We’re Caught in a Trump” mural was a reflection of how Barbi felt when Trump became President.
“I don’t understand why people voted for Trump. He is vulgar towards women, and just because he has money, so what,” Barbi said.
Just recently on June 10, Barbi painted a mural in Nazaret, one of the roughest neighborhoods in Valencia due to it’s strong gypsy influence and its drug-related activities at the commercial port. The provence built a wall to prevent crime from spreading.
Years ago there was no wall. The people had easy access to the beach, but due to gentrification, the Valencia provence wanted to prosper and build a wall for a port. The community was devastated. To bring something positive out of a negative circumstance, Barbi and the Jornadas de Intervención Artística y Comunitaria, an organization in the community that mentors individuals down the right path through artistic and inspiring activities, collaborated and set up a program. Barbi painted a fun mural with vibrant colors, telling the story of an innocent bunny going to the beach, but who was not able to, because of the wall.
Remembering her childhood fondness for painting, Barbi teaches art to 10 students ages 4–9 at her studio, Tallercito Total in Valencia, Spain. She hopes that these children can express themselves and beautify their surroundings with the stroke of a brush for the greater good.
“I am doing this for the children and to better the neighborhood in any way I can,” said Barbi.