GREAT KIDS: Teen creates mural at Hartford’s Westside Square

Teen creates mural at Westside Square
Published: Nov. 15, 2022 at 5:40 PM EST
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HARTFORD, CT (WFSB) - A Hartford girl is learning all about art by doing it.

She was tapped to draw a mural near the heart of Hartford and she more than delivered.

When 16-year-old Manuela Valencia walks the hallway at Glastonbury High School, her focus is on her schoolwork.

But about 30 minutes away on Hartford’s west side, her artwork is on full display.

Manuela painted the mural at Westside Square on Farmington Avenue.

She’s a high school junior and she painted the entire mural from start to stunning.

She had never done anything of this magnitude.

“I guess, there’s always an anxiety to it, but it was mostly excitement because this is like a huge opportunity,” said Manuela. “I love painting simply just for the fun of it. I was like, oh my gosh, I get to do this.”

Before this she had only painted for herself.

“Canvasses from Five Below. I would draw and paint on them and hang them up with like a thumb tack,” Manuela said.

The co-owner of Westside Square, a food truck space, wanted a student artist.

Friends recommended Manuela, even showing her work.

“They had sent me a couple of pictures of the small canvasses she had done. And once I saw it, I said to my friend, ‘can she come?’” said Rebeca Quach, owner of Westside Square.

Manuela started painting in August. It took her about a month and a half to finish

She said the hardest part was coming up with a concept.

Her initial idea wasn’t quite what the others were looking for.

Not because they weren’t good, they just wanted Manuela to paint a scene that truly reflected herself.

That’s what she did.

The design and imagery, she said, came from deep within.

“So, the concept I just kind of drew what came to me. I like drawing butterflies and people and I wanted a magical vibe to it. So that’s what I added,” said Manuela.

Manuela said this mural has caused a bit of a dilemma.

She always wanted to be a veterinarian.

Art is now an option, she said.

“Art is definitely an option some doors have opened you know,” said Manuela.

Opening doors to a bright future that’s already showing signs of incredible beauty.