When it comes to art in the Latinx community, while we’re passionate about legendary Mexican painter Frida Kahlo, for this list we wanted to make a point to highlight contemporary artists that have connected with art lovers and fans on social media alike. These artists vary in styles but they all promote their roots and many make socio-political statements through their works to raise awareness of issues afflicting the Latinx community. Discover the maternal and Mexican art of Anna Alvarado or the Aztec-inspired work of Jorge Garza or the murals of Nani Chacon, an avid supporter of indigenous rights. These 10 artists have eclectic styles that empower and fascinate viewers and you may find yourself connecting with their unique visions and message.
Mexican-born artist Ilse Valfré founded her namesake apparel brand in 2013 in Los Angeles, showcasing her unique and vibrant artwork. Her characteristic classic girl cartoon is deceptively cute with a sinister side and this duality has clearly resonated with fans helping her grow her line to become a million-dollar business. You can shop Valfré products from apparel to home and tech or artwork divided by the classic cartoon and the more sinister and sexual “Lucy.”
Artist Anna Alvarado showcases art that’s both for adults and children. “Infused with thought-provoking, vibrant and emotional rawness, her sensual figurative paintings and drawings explore being Latino in the U.S. and a woman,” it states on her website. She’s been working as an artist since 2007 incorporating her Mexican heritage from symbols to folklore and of course, the iconic Frida Kahlo. Based in Los Angeles, she studied graphic design at the Art Institute of Seattle but she’s a self-taught painter and her passion for art is evident with each of her pieces showcasing an important part of her culture and family.
Jorge Garza’s (aka Qetza) more than 30K followers likely gravitate to his artwork for his Aztec influence, clear in his viral depiction of pop culture icons including Frida, Selena and El Chapulín Colorado. Garza also does comic book and horror-related artworks and, according to his website bio, is best known for his t-shirt designs that also feature his artwork.
Trans Latinx artist Martine Gutierrez gained acclaim last year for her fictional 126-page art piece as a glossy fashion magazine in honor of Mayan Indian heritage, “Indigenous Woman.” The Brooklyn-based artist explores the nuances of being a woman, a Latina, and a transwoman, and the intersection of race, class, gender, and sexuality. In the place of binaries, she looks at what defines a person and the ambiguity therein, especially when it comes to her indigenous roots. “My authenticity has never been to exist singularly, whether in regard to my gender, my ethnicity, or sexual orientation. My truth thrives in the gray area, but society doesn’t yet allow an open consciousness to celebrate ambiguity, and we are told who we should be,” she told Vice.
Ruben Guadalupe Marquez
Queer Chicanx collage artist Ruben Guadalupe Marquez uplifts the LGBTQ community through his work, highlighting icons and activists, as well as victims of discrimination and violence with his more than 50k followers on Instagram. His characteristic style combines colorful and floral imagery surrounding photos of figures like trans rights activists Marsha P.Johnson, Selena, Walter Mercado, and Yalitza Aparicio. But his collages honoring the Latinx who have recently lost their lives at the border including Jakelin Ameí Rosmery Caal Maquin who died in Border Patrol custody, Honduran trans woman Roxsana Hernandez who died in ICE custody, and Claudia Patricia Gómez González, a 20-year-old Guatemalan woman shot and killed by Border Patrol in Rio Bravo. Marquez’s beautiful art is an ode to these lives and his message is clear: say her name and honor her life.
Barbara Rivera is a SoCal native of Cuban and Mexican descent who paints what she loves, according to her Instagram bio, and that includes her heritage and family. Her imagery evokes El Dia de Los Muertos, traditional Mexican textiles, and the border crisis, all with a clear maternal touch with a fixation on the innocence and playfulness of young Latina girls.
Guadalupe Maravilla is a performance, video, and sculpture artist where he draws from his own life, most recently exhibiting “shrine” sculptures. In Oct. 2019 he hosted a night-long “sound bath” at the Institute of Contemporary Art in Richmond, Virginia where he invited a team of sound healers of color to play the sculptures in the exhibition. Another piece of artwork was inspired by the Historia Tolteca Chichimeca, a 16th-century Nahuatl-language manuscript. Maravilla was born in El Salvador in 1976 and left as a refugee of the Salvadorian Civil War coming to NYC in the 1980s. Formerly known as Irvin Morazán, he recently readopted his birth name and his undocumented father’s pseudonym as his surname.
Manuela Alejandra Guillén
Painter, muralist, and illustrator Manuela Alejandra Guillén is a Miami-native born to Cuban-Salvadoran immigrant parents whose works showcase her Latina pride. Some of her current projects include drawing all of the flags from Latin America, as well as, using her art to make political statements supporting keeping families together, trans rights, reproductive justice, and the indigenous community. Her whimsical style is colorful and vibrant with influences from nature and spirituality evident in her repeated use of flowers, nopales, and butterflies.
Nanibah “Nani” Chacon
Nanibah “Nani” Chacon is a Diné (Navajo) and Chicana muralist and painter who was born and raised in New Mexico, as well as, the Navajo reservation. She’s known for her works focusing on socio-political issues affecting women and indigenous people like the ethereal “Missing” which draws parallels between the violence of indigenous women in North America and the endangered Monarch butterfly indigenous to North America. Another recent work features women of color embodying the elements of fire and water and in October 2019 she celebrated 527 years of indigenous resistance with a mural.
Mexican artist Alba Paramo describes her art as “rooted in Latin American symbolism, mythology, literature, and cultural history” on her website. Her work is inspired by her heritage, nature, and her visions but according to Paramo, the meaning of the work is open-ended and relies on the viewer to interpret it. Paramo, who is currently based in Amsterdam, showcased a piece this year called “Yólotl” (Nahuatl for “heart”), a moody and dark piece with a woman and a magical creature surrounded by flowers amid the night sky.