People of Plano: Carissa Nalley

Carissa Nalley with murals she created inside Plano's BAR-Ranch Steak Company / photo Kathy Tran
Carissa Nalley with murals she created inside Plano's BAR-Ranch Steak Company / photo Kathy Tran

Carissa Nalley is a multidisciplinary artist whose Plano roots run deep. Her mother and father lived here as a young couple, and then grew their family here. Now, she is raising her own family minutes from Plano. Carissa creates art across DFW, and shares and sells her art online as well. In the midst of the difficulties of the pandemic, she has found it to be a time to delve into her craft, spend time with her children and commune with fellow artists through social media.

Carissa, where did you grow up?

I was born in Plano, and then my family moved about five or 10 minutes away to Garland. But I’ve always been in Plano because it’s right down the street. My mom and dad worked in Plano. I grew up playing in Haggard Park. And my brother lives in Plano now.

Tell me about yourself and your family.

I’m 28 years old, Black and Vietnamese. I am married and have two kids. Emerly is six, and Kahlia is almost two. My husband’s name is Quentin Rolland, and he is in the Air Force. He’s currently stationed at Tinker Air Force Base in Oklahoma.

Carissa with her husband and daughters // photos courtesy Carissa Nalley
Carissa with her husband and daughters // photos courtesy Carissa Nalley

How long have you been creating art?

I have been an artist since I could hold a crayon or pencil. My dad is an artist, and a lot of my family members make art, too. In kindergarten, I’d get in trouble for taking too long on projects. I took my time, and colored everything with a lot of care and detail.

I also have a love to cook. When I graduated high school, I worked as a prep cook for Nordstrom’s Bistro. I was there for two or three years, worked my way up to kitchen lead, and then I started working in sous chef positions for corporate dining at places like Fossil. I also worked at Amazeballz [in Downtown Plano].

What type of media do you use in your artwork?

I work with acrylic, graphite, soft pastels, color pencil, watercolor, ink, charcoal, jewelry and mixed media. I make portraits, illustrations, murals, chalk, all kinds of art.

How did you get started in chalk art?

Chalk It Up is a chalk art competition [that started in Plano in 2015]. That was my first time ever using chalk so I participated in the amateur division. I paid a lot of attention to the woman who ended up winning. I watched how she used the chalk and the concrete. I won second place in the amateur division that year, and kept working with chalk after that. I won first place in the professional division the next year.

Where have you created art in Plano?

I create at [Plano ArtFest] every year. I got to chalk the Raising Cane’s logo for the Chalk It Up competition in 2017 since they were a sponsor. Through the festivals, I’ve had the chance to make large chalk pieces all across Plano. I’ve also had the chance to participate in art festivals in surrounding cities. I recently made the wall murals inside of BAR-Ranch Steak Company.

What inspires you?

My art consists of my passions and vision. I often want to provoke emotions and allow my viewer to connect with the piece in some way. I put my heart into every piece that I do. It’s an extension of myself. Representation matters. My children are a huge motivation for me – being strong and showing my daughters they can rise above any situation with resilience and perseverance.

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