News & Updates
Thursday, April 11, 2024

‘El Centro is a tool to dream:’ Artist Enrique Nunez Finds the Courage to Pursue his Passion

No matter what is going on in Enrique Nunez’s life, the experience of painting fills him with a sense of peace and connection to the deepest parts of himself.

Currently a Visual and Graphic Design student at Bunker Hill Community College, Enrique had been longing to give back to El Centro after graduating from the ESOL program last year. That opportunity arose after sharing some of his artwork with El Centro’s Director of Education, Marianna Geraskina.

“When I showed Marianna some of my paintings, she said, ‘Oh my goodness Enrique, I can’t believe you’ve never told us you were so talented. You need to keep painting,’” he said.

That inspired Enrique to create the mural now on display at the entrance of El Centro. For two months earlier this year, Enrique spent three to four evenings a week hunched over a 86 by 64-inch canvas at El Centro’s Adult Education Center, working his magic with a paintbrush in hand. He chose to make Martin Luther King Jr. the subject of the painting as a way of celebrating El Centro’s diverse, inclusive culture.

“I had never done that big of a project before and I was a little scared, but Marianna pushed me to give it a try anyway, and I’m so glad she did,” said Enrique. “I was really impressed with how it came out and it made me realize I need to believe in myself more.”

Enrique says that is the greatest lesson he learned during his time at El Centro– to never underestimate himself and to trust that anything is possible, even in the face of life’s challenges.

Born and raised in El Salvador where crime, gang violence, and drug use were constant threats in his community, Enrique decided to join the seminary after graduating from high school, where he spent his first two years in Mexico and the following two years in Connecticut, studying liberal arts and the humanities. However, just before completing his final year, he made the difficult decision to leave the seminary and permanently move to the United States,

“I was doing a lot of praying at that time and I realized that this was not my path,” he said.

Enrique credits his time in the seminary for cultivating within him a deep appreciation for the liberal arts and a desire to find meaning through creative expression. In addition to painting, Enrique finds a creative outlet in his current classes, where he’s learning graphic design, logo design, web development, and coding. In another effort to give back to El Centro, Enrique recently began volunteering in Labouré’s coding and web development class.

“El Centro has been a huge tool for me to dream about my personal life,” he said with a smile. “El Centro is a home for me.”

Learn more about Catholic Charities El Centro Adult Education Center here. To learn how you can help other students like Enrique, visit our ways to give page here.

Get the Latest News from CCAB