basque heritage worldwide

News rss

Carina Barajas, Basque born in Utah: “I was raised by strong people, especially by women of strong sprit”


Carina Barajas with two of her works
Carina Barajas with two of her works


Her name is Carina Barajas and she is 23.  She was born in California, but grew up in Utah.  She is an artist, by training, vocation and ability.  She adores her amatxi (grandma), Mary who is originally from Ezterenzubi, in Nafarroa Beherea, in the Basque Country.. 

Joseba Etxarri. Carina grew up in Utah surrounded by her parents, siblings, aunts and uncles, cousins and amatxi. But along with her immediate family, Carina is also part of the larger Utah Basque Club, family.  A small club, but one that gathers every week in the homes of its members.  Preceded by a first club founded in Ogden, north of Salt Lake, in 1914, the Basques of Utah began their current Basque club in the 70s.  It stands out for its family values and the last two generations are already professionals including doctors, journalists, criminologists, contractors, merchants, designers and artists like Carina.

You have always been a part of the local Basque club.  You were and are still a dantzari in the Utah-ko Triskalariak.

-I have been a dantzari for as long as I remember. My live has evolved around the Basque club.  It is something that I don’t think I’ll ever lose.  If I had to move elsewhere for work reasons or so, I would really miss it.  We are a big family, we get together, we play Mus, and celebrate birthdays, we share the good and the bad….I finished my studies last week at the University of Utah with a degree in Art, something that I’ve juggled with working in an Italian restaurant.  And so just a few times for work reasons, I have missed club activities of dance practice.  They know that they can always count on me and I know I can always count on them.  In December I inaugurated my first individual exhibit at a gallery and many Basque community members came to support me in this moment that was so important to me.

A child that becomes an artist may not be the hope of many parents.

-My family and those who surround me are very culturally open.  At home we were always taught to be proud of who we are and where we come from.  I have always been taught to work hard for what I want, and make certain sacrifices to get there.  I was raised by people of very strong spirit, and particularly by many women of strong spirit and that has influenced me greatly in my growth throught the years.  I owe my family and friends because they are always there, supporting my decisions.  The Basque club too for always encouraging me on every new step including publishing their encouragement in the club’s newsletter.

Your father, Antonio, is Mexican and your mother Catherine, born in Utah, is the daughter of an American father and Basque mother.  Your Basque origin has undoubtedly permeated deeper into your family.

-That is the environment I grew up.  Living in Utah I haven’t been exposed much to the Mexican culture, and in our house we always lived the Basque culture more intensely.  My father’s family lives in California and Mexico and maybe that’s why.  That is something I would like to remedy.

You studied Art and Painting and in December you held your first individual exhibit.  How would you define your work?

-I studied Fine Arts, with a special emphasis in Painting and Drawing with a minor in Art and Technology because I am also interested in technology and digital design.  I have designed t-shirts and logos, for example for NABO’s Udaleku, and others for the Basque club.  About my pictorial work, I think that it is a mixture between something abstract and somethin real.  I like to skew the colors in my painting to portray a certain feeling or emotion, and the technique of building textures also lends to that idea. I like to scrape away at my boards and give a sense of hard work that the viewer can see went into the painting.

Having finished your degree, what are your plans in relation to your artistic side?

-I am going to take a little break and work on creating a portfolio.  In class we worked, for example, with graphic material and Photoshop and we saw how that can help in the creative process, and I’d like to explore and progress in that area. In general I want to work on my own and experiment.  In a couple of years I would like to return to the University and get a Masters and work on getting my own studio.

Right now you also have other tasks to complete in a few weeks…

-Yes (smile).  On the one hand our dance troupe the Utah-ko Triskalariak, is going to a huge Basque festival that the Smithsonian is throwing in Washington DC on the National Mall called “Innovation by Culture.”  It is a unique opportunity.  As other Basque groups in the US, we are organizing fund raisers to help us pay for the trip.  On the other hand, our Basque club is also in charge of organizing this year’s NABO Udaleku, a summer camp for Basque-American children.  I will help out with camp and will also host some of the children at home.  I have also committed to teach kids how to paint a mural, so that they can create an allegorical mural at Udaleku 2016

« previous
next »






Last comments

  • Anjie Arrieta
    Mark Guerry
    Castleford, Idaho, USA
  • Ederra!
    Mexiko Hiria, Mexiko
  • Josephine love
    Colesie Tharp
  • Guernica
    Peter Werrenrath
    Long Beach CA
  • Dokuklik
    Claudia A Banks

© 2014 - 2019 Basque Heritage Elkartea

Bera Bera 73
20009 Donostia / San Sebastián
Tel: (+34) 943 316170

jaurlaritza gipuzkoa bizkaia