It is not often that you come across an artist that has created his or her own genre of art. Less often, that artist is also Latina. Harlem-born Puerto Rican Soraida Martinez is the originator of Verdadism, a form of hard-edge abstraction where every painting is accompanied by social commentary.
The word Verdadism combines the Spanish word for truth (Verdad) with the English suffix for theory (ism). Soraida, a renowned contemporary abstract expressionist artist, adds commentaries to her art, her truth, based on personal life experiences and observations on American society. They discuss humanity, recognition, the universal human condition, acceptance, and are statements against sexism, racism, stereotyping and the dominant male society. All of these fall in line with her purpose to promote hope, tolerance, peace, social change and aim for a deeper understanding of the human soul and to promote respect for all human beings.
Martinez owns an art and design studio where, by appointment only, you may have a private viewing of her paintings and drawings. Graduating in 1981 with a specialization in design from Glassboro State College, she received a Bachelor of Fine Arts, and also holds a Liberal Arts degree, focusing on psychology. From 1996 to 2000, the artist held a seat on the New Jersey State Council on the Arts.
Soraida is often asked to do exhibitions of her art and philosophy at universities, corporations and institutions. During Hispanic Heritage Month in 2013, she had a ten-piece painting collection shown during a week-long exhibition at George Mason University. On April 24, 2014, she presented a “My Verdadism Artist” exhibition/talk at the University of Pennsylvania. At one point, she featured “The Woman Artist,” a Verdadism painting for which she was asking $25,000. In March of 2017, her work was featured as part of the Racism and Sexism Women’s History Month Exhibition, held at the Women’s Rights National Historical Park in New York.
Her 2017 work “Disbelief,” in response to the 53% of American women that voted for Donald Trump, shows this artist’s dedication to being a part of the current narrative. Social commentary for the painting details her feelings on the nation’s President:
“I’m appalled that 53% of American women voted for a man as President of the United States that is an outright racist, sexist, and promotes hate and intolerance. Some of the women I know that voted for this man are actually well-educated. However, they are definitely not in touch with their souls. These women set themselves back 50 years. Everything American women have achieved in the last five decades for a better life in the US is in the process of getting undone. I’ve been raising awareness of women’s rights for the last 25 years. I’m simply in disbelief.”
In 2008, Martinez was recognized as one of the 15 most prominent Hispanic Americans in the Arts. Her Verdadism art book and paintings are being used at Willamette University and in many schools as a textbook to teach students about diversity and tolerance. As an advocate and humanitarian, she visits young children in schools to inspire and encourage them to strive to achieve their full potential. Her art style has been featured on television and radio, in magazines and newspapers, and have been used as covers for scholarly journals and books.