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Human Interest

Houston Painter Learned to Communicate Through Graffiti When He Immigrated from Mexico

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Episode 9 of AMERICAN DOERS, a new 12-part video series featuring original thinkers, innovators, craftspeople, risk-takers and artisans across the United States.

Meet Daniel Anguilu. When he was 14 years old, he moved with his family from Mexico to Houston, Texas. Suffering from a language barrier, Anguilu fell in with a crowd that did graffiti.

“I met kids that were painting and I started hanging out with them. We could communicate without really speaking,” he says.

Today, Anguilu is a successful muralist and painter. He now works full-time as a train conductor so he can pay the bills and maintain creative control of his art.

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And he has fused his American graffiti roots with Mexican symbols and colors to create his unique murals.

“I started to learn about symbolism from the Mexican tradition,” he says of his art. “And I found something that people can relate to. I use a lot of different birds — the hummingbird represents a heart but also represents our connection to the fire that lives inside of us.

“I really paint just for the experience. It’s something that’s helping me grow and I also hope it can help society grow.”