Lina Montoya, A.K.A. “Ele Eme”, Staten Island-based artist since 2010. A passionate, creative and rising Graphic Artist and Designer, born and raised in Medellín, Colombia.
Montoya has an extensive background in Graphic Design, Web, and Advertising and working with several clients and agencies worldwide. During the recent years, because of her community-based creative work, she has been developing her career as Muralist, Teaching Artist, and Community Organizer. She has experience working with public agencies and community based organizations around New York City.
As a vehicle to express her talents, share her migratory experience and celebrate multiculturalism, she founded the “Ele Eme Project” in Colombia, before she moved to the United States in 2010. It is an artistic initiative developed between New York City and Latin America that intends to exchange “Magical Experiences” through socially engaged art for public space beautification and landscape transformation.
She has been working since 2013 on two on-going series of public art: “La Isla Bonita Series”, as a tribute to Staten Island and New York City’s beauty and diversity and “MusiCalls Series”, that intends to beautify as many places as possible along the America from North to South. She founded “La Isla Bonita Summer Festival”, an annual celebration on the North Shore of Staten Island since 2015, and the community group for Faber Pool and Park “Do Me A Faber” established 2016.
There’s several pieces on display around Staten Island where she has participated. In addition to all the temporary art-making activities she leads around the five boroughs and the murals she has painted in Colombia, Panama, and Mexico.
Montoya is a granted artist by the Department of Transportation (NYC DOT), Staten Island Arts (COAHSI), the Wagner College Port Richmond Partnership, City Parks Foundation (CPF) and UNIQLO Arts Expressions Grant 2017 by the Department of Parks and Recreation New York City Parks. Mentee of the Immigrant Artist Mentorship Program of the New York Foundation for the Arts (NYFA). Teaching artist for the Police Athletic League (PAL) and Groundswell Community Art Project.
“Ele Eme” is able to take one’s vision and bring it to life. In addition, her artistic capabilities, her love for life, the energy she projects, and her love for the arts is what makes Lina an inspiration for the Community.
“…We can view ourselves as alchemists, able to transform society and the culture at large with our words and ideas. We have the power to heal an ailing culture with the ‘Magical Energy’ that comes from our imagination“. Keri Smith.
My art is a graphic “playlist” that sings a story about migration, how my journey can take me to explore and reflect about the dualism of my world as an “Immigrant Artist”, it celebrates bilingualism and cultural diversity.
Languages, music, literature and poetry are my main inspiration. I create visual representations and typographical designs of diverse musical themes, there’s a constant reference to the Colombian and Latin American culture, also to different Indigenous artwork and handmade artisan products, that I commonly use to conceptualize most of my colorful pieces.
Through collaborative art making, such as murals, installation art and workshops, the intention is to engage the community into the process of creation to demonstrate how we all can be the catalysts and create positive impact in the world.
My objective is the beautification of public spaces through artistic interventions, using paint, everyday objects, plastic bottles, recycled material and founded objects to transform public spaces and show to the participants that you too can make it! The urban environment is the perfect stage to have my artwork in direct contact with the public all the time, and to invite them to create the pieces with me. The community involvement brings to the artwork it’s own chapter of the story and ends up being a major component of the creative process.
My art serves as a love letter to the places we beautify, generating a sense of belonging to locals, visitors and new immigrants, intends to generate dialogues and a space for transformation, creation and self-expression.
Logo by Lina Montoya.
Photos by Adriana Cuartas and Angie Velasquez.