You’re About To Want All Boricua Elizabeth Barreto’s Illustrations Tattooed On Your Body
Elizabeth Barreto isn’t a household name, but she’s on her way to becoming a muralist icon in Puerto Rican culture. While she’s been painting the streets of San Juan with her expansive work, she’s also going smaller scale, and venturing into body art.
Regardless of what she’s doing, her goal as an artist is to touch on the realidad of Puerto Rican society in the midst of a revived feminist revolution, and collapse after Hurricane Maria.
Here’s Barreto’s story in a nutshell.
Barreto was born and raised in Bayamón, Puerto Rico. Until she accepted an artists’ residency at Cafe Con Leche, in Pittsburgh. It was her first time living outside of Puerto Rico. Before that, she received a BFA in visual arts at Puerto Rico’s most prestigious academy of arts.
Her niche is muralism.
Her art is intended to inspire Puerto Ricans. 🇵🇷
Caption: “Let’s kick ass! Against fear, silence, tyranny, oppression, inequality, gender and racial discrimination, sex abuse, the colonization of our bodies and minds. Against growing up in shaming and humiliation. We will not get tired of claiming what is rightfully ours every year, everyday. United we are powerful and we know it, the future knows it. And just because nobody has the right to tell me how to act like a PUERTO RICAN WOMAN! Saludos a todas las mujeres que amo, mis cómplices de vida, las que hacen de mí un mejor ser humano. Sí, somos brujas, el Caribe nos hizo así. ✨🌴🔮”
Almost all of her characters have line drawing tattoos on them, and cultural symbols everywhere.
Barreto moved to Mexico City in February and the cultural immersion has been explosive for her work. Eso es the Gemini sisters, with vivid desert and island imagery. Me pregunta if this is not a Puerto Rican and Mexican sister arm in arm? Que piensas?
But Barreto has respect for the dead, and speaks out in solidarity against injustice.
Caption: “#sayhername Her name was Claudia Patricia Gómez González. She was a 20 year old maya mam indigenous woman who was fatally shot in the head by the hands of a veteran Border Patrol officer. She was no threat to anyone. She was only armed with the strong-willed and courageous spirit to move far away in hope to secure a job to pay for her education and family support. But instead she found herself denied the right to live. You will not be forgotten, rest in power Claudia.”
Barreto is a self-professed mafu crew lifer, and gets active to legalize recreational marijuana.
Caption: “Recently I shared an enlightening experience with my mother, smoking weed of course. I can finally rest in peace.✨💚 ”
My lesson with mi mami was that when she’s “enlightened”, she thinks she’s walking on a tightrope and will throw herself on strangers begging them salvarle. So dramatic.
Barreto has recently started making art out of alcohol.
It’s cultural, ok.
Caption: “Noche en Tenochtitlán 🌙 🌵 …if you are wondering what I’m drinking it’s #fernetbranca , the italian elixir that soothes my fat belly 💩.”
Támbien, Barreto is queer and proud of it.
Um, yes I was majorly obsessed with Sailor Moon, and clearly I was in good company. Barreto identifies as bisexual and we’re so grateful she’s injecting Latino culture with a creative embrace of the LGBTQ community.
This cutie self portrait of her and her boo is everything.
Caption: “Hoy es día de #pridemexico y lo celebraremos con mucho amor. Un abrazo solidario a toda la comunidad LGBTTTI en México y Puerto Rico 🌈😘.
Today is Pride Day in Mexico City. We will celebrate it with much love in solidarity with the LGBTQ communities in Mexico and Puerto Rico 🇵🇷 🇲🇽 .”
IRL boo is also her merch model… and we love it. 🌈
Get it? It’s the queer cosmos. It’s very clever, and her merch is available for purchase. When I get to support una boricua and the LGBT community, I say, “Take my money.”
Barreto is toying with temporary tattoos, one client at a time.
That’s what you call entrepreneurship, kids. She found something she was good at and found a way to make money off of it. Not only is she making money off of it, she is find ways to spread her art on our bodies. That’s great marketing.
Mira esa “Bloody Mary” 🤯:
In case you’re a very fortunate non-recovering Catholic, I’ll fill you in. There are over a dozen claims around the world that a statue of the Virgin Mary was seen weeping tears of blood, to represent the blood of her slain son, Jesus.
It’s basically the reverent version of an otherwise happy, uplifting morning cocktail.
And you can get it on a T-shirt, mail it to your mami, and tell her you’re still a good Catholic.
Maybe don’t claim drinking booze makes you religious. Perhaps this is just a cute shirt to buy your mom and see if she realizes that she is wearing a bloody Mary on her shirt.
Barreto’s gift is to humanize the issues plaguing Puerto Rico, like it’s economic crisis.
Nina Alejandra Droz was arrested by the Puerto Rico Police Department for attempting to block a lie of riot cops by simply sitting in front of them. The U.S. District Attorney for Puerto Rico actually tried to paint her as a terrorist…for marching on May Day for an end to the economic crisis in her home country. In the end, Droz was sentence to 37 months in jail and 3 years probation for being an activist.
There’s no question that Barreto is an unapologetic feminist.
Caption: “Teach yo’ girls how to love themselves, how to be bold, fearless, mindful, empathetic, solidary, outspoken, honest, creative, caribbean proud…latina proud. Teach them how to fight like a girl..”
Barreto has even gracefully visualized the most ethereal poems of her ancestors.
Caption: “Post Umbra (1923)
🌑Vendrá un día el arcángel de la muerte
a dormirme en un abrazo largo y frío;
pero tendré, lo único que es mío:
mi lira de marfil, cuando despierte.
Despertaré en la eternidad más fuerte,
cual una flor al beso del rocío;
en una estrella cruzaré al vacío,
Y miraré como el Señor convierte
los nobles ideales en fulgores…
Veré cómo, fundiendo sus amores,
las bellas Islas triunfarán hermanas.
Y con la misma fe que ahora me inspira,
¡Una vez más resonará mi lira cantando las grandezas antillanas!”
16. But she is available to commission paintings of your pets and tattoo drawings.
You know who to go to, now. Chihuahuas never looked so fierce. It is also a great way to remember your loved ones when the pass.
Oh, and Princess Nokia casually regrammed this portrait of her.
Boricuas apoyando boricuas. I love it. I’m also here for this hashtag #ilovemylittletittiesandfatbelly. Talk about empowering people through art.
And, it seems she’s in with Necromancy Cosmetics.
Necromancy is a Puerto Rican owned cosmetic company that has the most severely badass shades in matte you can find. This is a portrait of Taller Brinca Verja, a renown graphic artist affiliated with Necromancy.
Barreto is also here for the food.
If you didn’t already know, Barreto is here for immigration reform.
If you want to buy any of her work, shoot her a DM at @cookingood on Instagram. We don’t know what the shipping costs are but her t-shirts are no more than $20, and if you have una perrito who could use a toughened up portrait, she’s your wapa.