A local Chicano artist uses his passion for spray paint to remember the lives of the deceased, providing hope and guidance to the next generation of youth in his community.
Mexican artist and Street Art Ministry founder Milton Coronado, 40, began drawing at the age of five after his mother passed away as a form of therapy. He learned the art of airbrushing spray on T-shirts during his teens. His spray technique soon led to him receiving the attention of his peers and other graffiti artists.
“Spray painting is something that is not taught in school, you learn in the streets by doing it and surrounding yourself with other street spray artists,” Coronado said. “By practicing and doing it, you develop a style and a skill, you begin to learn the trade.”
Coronado began vandalism shortly after with other taggers at age 17, but his life was shattered after his father was killed by gang members he knew. The grief of his father’s death led Coronado to find comfort in his faith and discover his mission of community service. It was his newfound passion for serving his community that led Coronado to establish a new message and purpose with spray art.
“It was four years later that I went back to using aerosol, but with the idea and mission of establishing a precedence for others and being an example for others,” said Coronado. “May I use this tool to serve others through community beautification and to bring hope to others.”
With a new vision in mind, Coronado embarked on a journey to paint murals of people who have passed away in a way to bring hope and healing to families.
“When I painted a portrait of my father who was murdered in 2001, I experienced a sense of hope, therapy and joy in doing so,” Coronado said. “I recognized the importance of how this can help others to heal, not to heal completely, but to be part of a component of a healing process. I started with the mission of giving back in this way. ”
Since then, Coronado has used her artwork not only to honor and bring healing to the families of crime victims like Marlene Ochoa and Vannessa Guillén, but also to bring justice to their names.
“You feel angry, you feel like there was no justice and you want justice for her,” Coronado said in reference to his recent mural of Vanessa Guillén, the army soldier who was killed at a military armory base by another enlisted soldier.
“This story was silent and we cannot let it hide under a rug and forget about it. We need justice for her and the only way we can get justice is by taking action, ”Coronado said. “I decided to give back to the family and the city of Chicago this gift from her so that we don’t forget her, we don’t forget her story and we can continue talking about her.”
Coronado said it was the mural and her family’s upbringing that showed her the value of serving and honoring others through her craft.
“They taught me that the talents and gifts I have are not just for me, but should also be shared and contributed to my community,” he said. “I have these gifts and abilities not for myself, but to give back and serve.”
Once experienced a disturbing past physical abuse and death of both parents, Coronado focused on working with the new generation of young, gui to ndolos in his ways.
“I decided to focus primarily on this group of children, youth and adolescents because we live in difficult times and they need love, attention, recognition and push,” Coronado said. “I don’t want a young person to go through what I went through.”
Through his collaboration with non-profit organizations such as Gospel Graffiti and his self-directed Art Street Ministry, Coronado was able to mentor youth by leading community events such as community beautification and mural installation.
Art Street Ministry combines Coronado’s faith journey and her passion for art to engage youth in community service work through faith empowerment to spread love and lead others to find their own journey of faith.
“I work towards that goal to have a better life, not only for myself, but also for my children, my family and for future generations of Latinos in which I can be an example,” said Coronado. “I want to be their voice through art, I want to be their voice through the defense of young people, I want to be their voice through education and the liberation of preaching .”