Award- winning artist Karlisima draws on her Mayan heritage and reverence for nature in work as a painter and muralist. In Episode #10 of the EWI Legacy Stories Project, Karlisima shares her experience immigrating to the US as a teenager, her work as an artist, and how the Empowered Women International programs motivated her to be an artist entrepreneur.
Karlisima’s story is one of resilience, determination, and passion for her craft. The Salvadoran-born artist was inspired to pursue her dream of becoming a painter at age seven. Her talent was evident, and her mother enrolled her in studio art lessons from renowned painters in San Salvador.
At fourteen, Karlisima and her mother immigrated to Virginia. Despite the challenges of adjusting to a new language and foreign school system, Karlisima never lost sight of her love for art. After high school, she earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Painting from Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri.
Karlisima’s career as an artist led her to New York City, where she hoped to make a name for herself. The experience was difficult. In her own words, “I think I was not ready to be in New York and live the life of a New Yorker.” She returned to DC and taught art. It was a difficult time as she figured out her career and her art.
One of her greatest accomplishments as an artist was paining The Mama Ayesha’s Presidential Mural, located on Calvert Street. This piece opened the door for her to create other murals, signs, and large art pieces in the DC Metro Area.
While Karlisima’s talent as an artist was undeniable, she found it challenging to turn her art into a profitable business. That’s where Empowered Women International’s Entrepreneur Training for Success (ETS) and Grow My Business (GMB) programs came in. Through these programs, Karlisima learned how to turn her art into products and acquired valuable entrepreneurial skills. She wrote a business plan and learned about finances.
Karlisima’s experience with EWI was transformative. She credits the program with motivating her to continue producing artwork, selling it, and showcasing in galleries. As she explains, “The motivation has come from being in the program and being surrounded by so many wonderful women. All of the students, as well as the mentors and trainers are people that have this idea of helping other women.”
For other entreprneurs, Karlisima’s advice is simple: work hard and never give up. Her story is a testament to the power of persistence, creativity, and the support of a community of like-minded women.
Watch EWI Legacy Stories Project Episode #10 see the interview and learn more about Karlisima.
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