Here Are Some Of The Best Latino Visual Artists Creating Work For Their Communities
Visual artistry today is filled with Latino artists of every age. While the world of Hollywood may be slow at showing the diversity and versatility of America, the art landscape doesn’t reflect that at all. In 2019, you can walk into any museum or gallery and witness vibrant works created by people that look like you and me.
Whether it be through photography, digital graphics, murals, or mixed media, the art world has never looked as beautiful as it does today, and that’s in large part because of talented and expressive Latino artists.
Here are some of our favorite Latino artists you should know about today.
Despite our own chaotic life or the injustices happening in our country, the work of Patrick Martinez always feels like a haven. Hip hop, street culture, and the community around him is an inspiration for the former student of Pasadena High School Visual Arts and Design. One of his most prominent attractions is his use of neon lights constructed into visual sculptures. Galleries all over the world have displayed his artwork.
The artwork of Judy Baca is an institution of Chicano culture. If you live in California or have visited, chances are you’ve seen her work. From the 2,400 feet long “Great Wall of Los Angeles” that is depicted along a flood control channel in the San Fernando Valley to the Cesar Chavez Memorial at San Jose State University, her murals are everywhere. She is also an art teacher and is showing the next generation of Latinx artists the incredible ways they can share our history.
At first glance, the art of Xochi Solis feels like warm flesh. Then as you get closer to it, the abstract pieces seem to resemble all of your favorite things in the world compacted on top of each other, almost like a sandwich. It may sound odd. However, her work is incredible. The Austin-based artist says she “considers the repeated act of layering a meditation on color, texture, and shape all leading to a greater awareness of the visual intricacies found in her immediate environment, both natural and cultural.”
“Society perpetuates rigid constructs—fabricated dichotomies like ‘male’ vs. ‘female’, ‘gay’ vs. ‘straight’, ‘minority’ vs. ‘white’, ‘reality’ vs. ‘fantasy’, ‘dominate’ vs. ‘submissive’, etc.,” Brooklyn-based artist Martine Gutierrez says. “But our interpretation of these constructs is subjective and not immutable. Reality, like gender, is ambiguous because it exists fluidly.” The artist’s work is as complex and stunning as identity itself.
Karlito Miller Espinosa
Costa Rican artist, Karlito Miller-Espinosa, explores identity in the most brilliant way. His work above — two doormats that have “ni de aquí / ni de allá” instead of the words “welcome” — speaks to the heaviness he brings. “The mats are informed by the American policy Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) referencing a state of continuous deferment,” he states.
Ruben Guadalupe Marquez
The work of Ruben Guadalupe Marquez went viral with his tragic but beautiful image of a Jakelin Ameí Rosmery Caal Maquin, the child that died in the custody of the Border Patrol. Since then we’ve been following his work intently on Instagram, where he highlights extraordinary people including Cyntoia Brown and Yalitza Aparicio Martínez with his signature collaging.
“As a Mexican artist, my art is rooted in Latin American symbolism, mythology, literature, and cultural history,” Alba Páramo, a Guadalajara-born, New York-based artist states on her site. “The images that appear in my prints, drawings and paintings are interpretations of dreams about love, nature and the sacred connections between animals and human beings. They are representations of my vision and heritage as well as my deep interest in Tibetan art.”
We first experienced the work of Rodríguez Calero at an exhibition at the Museo del Barrio in New York City a couple of years ago. We instantly felt transported into some sort of alternative church where are welcomed. The Puerto Rican artist has a magical way of putting together images that look as if their whole intent on earth was to put together as one work of art.
Our world doesn’t seem to make sense right now, but for some reason, the crazy and insane sculptures by Guadalupe Maravilla fit right in. According to Creative Capital, Maravilla “is a transdisciplinary artist who was part of the first wave of undocumented children to arrive at the United States border in the 1980s from Central America.”
Encountering the work of José Parlá, a graduate of Savannah College of Art and Design is like walking into a colorful galaxy. It’s larger than life, and we desperately wish we could simply walk into his massive murals. His work is everywhere, and if you live in New York City go to One World Trade Center and see it for yourself.
We’ve been following the work of Nina Chacon for quite some time. The artist, from New Mexico, paints the most stunning murals depicting Latinas, cholos, brown heroes, and so much more. Her work is a real wonder, and we hope she never stops painting.
Photographer Cara Romero depicts the most authentic side to people and their passions. The California native who is now based in New Mexico has won several awards, according to her site, including ribbons at both major markets and the “Visions for the Future” award from the Native American Rights Fund.
The flirty and feminist illustrations by Panamanian-American artist Debi Hasky bring to light women, powerful women. The artworks are statements of who we are, where we have been, and where we want to go. “Debi’s illustrations are all primarily based on personal experiences, such as her struggles with body love and examining what it is to be a woman today.”
Colombian born conceptual artist, Antonio Caro, maybe pushing 70 but his artwork is as contemporary as they come. He’s kind of like our version of Andy Warhol — yes, it’s good. You can currently see his work for yourself at the Nasher Museum in Durham, North Carolina.
We recently covered the accomplishments of artist Favianna Rodriguez because her work was chosen for Ben & Jerry’s “Resistance” ice cream campaign. Her work represents our fight, our struggle, and our people.
“I love to inspire the next generation of artists,” Rodriguez wrote on her Instagram. “When I was a kid, I rarely saw images of myself across media and in museums, and that’s exactly WHY I became an artist. That’s why I advocate for art programs for kids, especially kids of color.
While groundbreaking photographer Laura Aguilar died last year, her work will never be forgotten. She’s one of the very few Latina queer photographers who could capture subjects through a powerful lens. “She was saying ‘I’m going to show you this femininity in this landscape,'” Los Angeles Times staff writer Carolina Miranda said before Aguilar passed away. ‘”I’m going to show you brown-ness in this landscape, I’m going to show you queerness in this landscape.'”
Raúl de Nieves
Mexican artist Raúl de Nieves has a way with beads. He has taken a traditional form of art that has been practiced by indigenous people for centuries and transformed it into treasure. His work resembles what you’d find if you dove into the ocean, and God’s most precious things all gathered onto reefs. You can currently see his work at the Cleveland Museum of Art.
People describe the images of Graciela Iturbide have as “anti-picturesque” and “anti-folkloric.” However, they breathe light into the “anti” and give it beauty and authenticity. Her work has been displayed worldwide and can currently on view at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston.
What would a splash of perfection look like — if the splash is shaped perfectly in line and color? The answer would be Ronny Quevedo. The Ecuadoran, Yale grad, creates massive works of art that look as if they were engineered for the exact spot that they’re located. It’s that insane. He is currently an artist in residence at Smack Mellon in Brooklyn.
Aliza Nisenbaum, a Mexican artist based in Brooklyn, is a realist. By that we mean she paints the real and the true. The work exudes raw emotion in each painting. She is currently Assistant Professor of Professional Practice in Visual Arts (Painting) Columbia University School of the Arts.