Meet the 24-year-old Filipina artist honoring the icons of hip-hop

24-year-old Fil-Am Mariella Angela is making a name for herself in the hip-hop art scene.

“You can paint someone and if it’s not their eyes then you don’t have their soul. Each portrait knows my secrets. They’re like, in my house all the time. They hear my conversations, they’re seeing everything, so I think each painting whether people realize it or not has a story behind it.”

With no formal training, she discovered her talent just 4 years ago.

“I got a C in art like in high school in like art and I just didn’t like painting at all. It was kind of like, it was homework, but I’m kind of glad that I didn’t push myself to kind of force myself to like it — because when I picked it up again later when I was already done with high school I kind of fell in love with it.”

Inspired by music, each stroke in her paintings is a reflection of her life.

She’s now done about 300 pieces in 4 years; most of them honoring hip-hop artists.

“I feel like painting that person per day because I want to listen to their music at the time. I like to listen to music when I’m painting their eyes. That’s where most of the emotions come from.”

Tthe Norwalk based prodigy whose parents hail from Paranaque and Las Pinas, first caught the eye of rapper Tyler the Creator.

As more rappers got word of her work, Mariella eventually launched her own gallery in Venice this month, and just landed the front page of LA Weekly’s art issue.

“It was like a win, win, win, it was like I was having fun I enjoyed it. And other people enjoyed it too it was like there was no negative aspect to it.”

After her Venice exhibit closes this week, Mariella heads to the southeast, for a month-long showcase in one of hip hop’s hottest places: Atlanta in September.

Check out Mariella’s art at mariellaangela.com.

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