Carranza’s creative journey has been a circuitous one. She was born in Los Angeles from parents who immigrated here from Jalisco, Mexico. After graduating from a private girls’ school in Pasadena, she was granted a couple of scholarships to attend California State University in Long Beach and at the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena. Originally aspiring to a career as a fine artist, she became disillusioned with her abilities while at Art Center and opted for a career in graphic design and advertising. This career choice, though nominally successful, proved so dissatisfying to her that while home-schooling her four children, she became a private art instructor, with plans to open an art school in Northern California. As fate would have it, as a result of printmaking sessions and her involvement at Self Help Graphics and Art in East Los Angeles, where she first drew attention as a serious artist and printmaker. Also at SHG, she was enthusiastically encouraged to pursue her original ambition as a fine artist. Soon she was exhibiting her distinctively original paintings, pastels and prints, and the following year she co-founded Flor de Luna Art Space, a working studio for painters, sculptors, and the community in the late 90’s.
Excerpt from Contemporary Chicano/a Art Book, published by Arizona Press:
“Carranza is best known for her depictions of women, certainly that is her subject matter. It would be easy to avoid further interpretation since the art and the women are lovely to behold. On another level, however, these works are about issues women face, paying tribute to the resilient female spirit...recognizing the complexity of their lives and ultimately portraying women, not only as tender, but strong.”
Carranza has recently returned to LA after a few years in San Diego, and resumed writing her memoirs with the tentative title of “Essays on Living Your Authentic Self,” about her journey overcoming multiple brain and body pathologies and remaining true to herself. More on that here. She has formulated and facilitates a woman’s workshop entitled “ The Power of Your Creativity.” Some of her work as an art educator is to inspire others towards unlocking their creative potential in a nurturing, non-competitive environment.
In her words: “What is my greatest accomplishment? Coming out of much physical, emotional, and psychic pain and yet remaining a compassionate, cheerful, and confident human being.” As a result, Carranza’s works offers glimpses into the beauty of life, what the Navajo call "hozh'q." Turning inward, the pain turns to joy and Carranza’s images become a communal journey that belong to everyone, as visual testimonies of the complexity, mystery, and connection of our collective humanity. Her artistic expression is fueled by her interactions with others, especially women. Feminism is expressed in innumerable forms, including virgins, mothers, mermaids, field workers, and musicians, reflecting on the tender aspect of mankind.
Carranza claims she is walking the artist's path because, as a child, abandoned and alone, she fell in love with crayons as survival tools that represented for the young girl the very embodiment of personal freedom and sanity in what she perceived as an insane and dangerous world. Making art has helped her heal these complex and deeply entrenched wounds. Carranza’s creative work, including her writing, is existential, socially and culturally relevant, as well as courageous. It is sensual without being vulgar, complex in its simplicity and full of hidden meaning. It represents the genuine authentic inner and outer beauty we long to express. This vision has culminated in the series titled “La Bella Mujer,” a fifteen-year body of work celebrating women~ their beauty, their essence, their strength, and their stories.
Her work has been honored with a one-woman exhibit at the Cultural Center and Museum in Ensenada, following an exhibit of David Alvaro Siqueiros. The Museum of Latin America Art in Long Beach, Latino Art Museum in Claremont, and the Museum of Man in San Diego have also featured her paintings.
Carranza has built a loyal following. Collectors include Congresswoman Lucille Roybal-Allard and actor Matthew McConaughy. Boxing champion Oscar de la Hoya owns a commissioned portrait. Legendary musician Carlos Santana chose her work to be featured in the restaurant chain “Maria Maria,” amidst his album cover artists. Others include Congressman Xavier Becerra, Dolores Huerta, Yolie Flores, City of Los Angeles Cultural Affairs, and the Mayor’s office. Mexico's Jose Jose and Juan Gabriel, Spain's Carlos Baute, Arizona State University, University of Texas, Wescom Credit Union, and San Antonio Winery.
Carranza is featured in “Triumph of Our Communities~ Four Decades of Mexican American Art” and “Contemporary Chicana & Chicano Art Vol. 1,” both by Bilingual Press. Latina Magazine wrote an article about her decision to become a painter. She has created art and donated to organizations like American Heart Association, H.O.P.E., NHLI, SEIU Justice for Janitors, Latino Coalition for a Healthy California, and Mitsubishi Motors’ Mothers Against Drunk Drivers campaigns. She is currently donating her time and art to Abriendo Puertas/Opening Doors – the nation’s first research-based parent leadership program for Latino parents of very young children.
In Spring of 2011 Carranza collaborated with public artist Ricardo Mendoza on a mural for the LA Unified School District, Sandra Cisneros Learning Academy.