Minneapolis-based artist Delphin Starr turns his speed-painting skills into an education platform

Minneapolis based Artist Delphin Starr turns his speed-painting skills into an education platform
Delphin Starr Niyonkuru, known as Delstarr, is a Magic Speed-Painter based in the Twin Cities, Minnesota.

Delphin is known for busting his dancing moves while speed-painting an art piece upside-down. Speed-painting has picked up popularity in the last few years. Many people have seen YouTube videos of live painted arts. But very few get to witness an artist like Delphin turn a blank canvas into a beautifully painted work of art in minutes.

Delphin is originally from Burundi. In the year of 2010, his family migrated to the United States and settled in the heart of North Minneapolis in Minnesota. Delphin has 9 siblings and says he comes from a big family of talented individuals. He began sketching and trying other forms of art.

As an artist, Delphin has always wanted to be creative and improve his art. When Delphin and his family came to the United States, none of them spoke the English language. For Delphin, art became a communication tool that he used to share his story.

School project: ‘Ordinary to Extraordinary’

According to Delphin, his second painting from the “Ordinary to Extraordinary” class project required students to change something “ordinary” and present it in an “extraordinary” manner.

While everyone else took an easy way by altering a pencil into a ribbon, or taking a bottle and making it wavy, Delphin wanted to tell a story that was cohesive and easy to understand.

Minneapolis based Artist Delphin Starr turns his speed-painting skills into an education platform

Delphin made “Smoking Truth,” an art piece of a person smoking a cigarette while the cigarette smokes the person simultaneously. The art is mind-blowing and communicates a strong message.

Delphin has always wanted to spread peace, justice, and love. In high school, Delphin participated in the art competition titled “Dream 50,” a competition that honored Martin Luther King’s “I have a dream” speech.

Minneapolis based Artist Delphin Starr turns his speed-painting skills into an education platform
Delphin Starr in class working on his piece “Dream Realized” for the “Dream 50” competition in Minnesota.

Unfortunately, Delphin did not win the “Dream 50” competition, maybe because he did not speak English. In addition, Delphin’s written description of the art was very poor. However, they loved his painting so much that it was chosen to be posted on the billboards in the Twin Cities. From there, Delphin found his passion and his purpose in life.

“That was my Aha! moment. I told myself, hold on, I could do this” – Delphin Starr.

Minneapolis based Artist Delphin Starr turns his speed-painting skills into an education platform
Delphin Starr’s art piece on billboards in the Twin Cities.

The art of speed-painting: How Delphin got into speed-painting

A year later, Delphin saw David Garibaldi painting upside-down and he was inspired. Delphin admired such talent and was inspired to do speed-painting. Delphin went to his high school teacher and asked the teacher to teach him. The teacher told Delphin that he had never heard of speed-painting, let alone knew how to do it. But the teacher encouraged Delphin to chase his dream and start practicing until he is able to make paintings. Delphin went home and began practicing over and over. With dedication and time, his art went from taking two hours down to twenty minutes. The fastest Delphin has speed-painted an art piece was in two minutes.

Delphin speed-paints while dancing, engaging and educating the audience at the same time. He has performed at a variety of shows including concerts, event meetings, high school beach bash, corporate events and at a multitude of colleges and universities.

Minneapolis based Artist Delphin Starr turns his speed-painting skills into an education platform

Delphin is an artist who combines his two biggest passions of dance and art to perform. “I’m an artist, painting performer, graphic designer, sculptor, dancer, and soon to be a fashion designer.” But, to Delphin, he is a storyteller first. “I have always wanted to share my story. How I grew up in my beautiful country of Burundi, and my continent of Africa,” says Delphin.

A magic speed-painter provides a moment of magic art!

In the state of Maine, Delphin had a chance to do his first speed-painting ever in front of about 200 people at a religious conference. While he was speed-painting, a lady who was sitting next to Delphin’s mother in the audience told her that Delphin was not doing a great job and no one knew what was going on. “Little did they know that I was painting an image of Jesus upside down,” says Delphin. When Delphin flipped the art, the audience was in awe and could not help but appreciate what they had just witnessed with their own eyes: a moment of magic art! The same lady who criticized Delphin on stage walked up to Delphin and apologized.

From there, Delphin has been invited to perform at a number of events. Today, he hopes to expand his business and maximize his entrepreneurial passion to create art. Delphin can be contacted via his Facebook page or by visiting his website.

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The Refugee Center Online Hall of Fame features refugees and immigrants from around the United States who are making a difference in their communities. At the Refugee Center Online, we believe newcomers make our country a better place. The individuals we feature show exactly that - they are examples of how immigrants and refugees contribute to our country. If you are interested in being featured or would like to nominate an individual to be featured in our Hall of Fame, email: wilson@therefugeecenter.org.