Celia Raya grew up in Ann Arbor, Michigan. As the daughter of artistic parents, Raya was exposed at an early age to a variety of creative disciplines. Her father, an architect, regularly brought home discarded plans for Raya and her siblings to use with their paints.
Raya’s early memories of her art included her yearly school exhibition held in the Rackham Museum. She received such a positive response to her art during those shows…it was then that she knew she wanted to be an artist.
A move to Florida in the late 1960’s gave Raya the opportunity to work under the tutelage of New College Art Professor Jack Cartlidge. At sixteen, she was creating full size human figures in cement and marble dust. After one year, Raya moved to San Francisco intent on creating a life as an artist. Within two years she had become a successful street artist, paying her bills by creating and selling her unique jewelry. Over the next two decades, Raya moved from creating and selling her own jewelry on the street to working for a fortune 500 company and designing for top manufacturers of jewelry in the United States.
Raya moved to Arizona in the mid 1980’s, where she was hired to design art for a major printing company. Her talent was quickly recognized and she was given the opportunity to manage their etching department. She credits this company for the very real life education she received while working for them. Another publisher soon noticed Raya’s talents and by 1992 she was creating monoprints and originals on paper for them. At this point in her life Raya took a four-month sabbatical, during which she traveled to France and studied en-plein-air painting.
In 1998, Raya moved to her studio to its current location in Santa Fe. This change in location has enabled her to explore new areas of her work, focusing on painting. A focus that has allowed her to speak through her art on a subtle, personal level.