Continuing to build your bank of artists and resources is always a wise investment as their work and lives might inspire new projects and future students. It’s important to diversify the artists in your curriculum to show students how artists of all backgrounds and identities reflect art.
Additionally, as the Hispanic population continues to grow in the United States and student demographics evolve, students need to see themselves in the curriculum and study artists with whom they might share an identity.
While you’re likely aware of Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera, here is a list of other Latino and Latina artists to add to your resources:
1. Roberto Lugo
Born of Puerto-Rican descent, Roberto is cool and contemporary. His ceramic work is a hit with students. His style of blending themes and cultures is incredibly engaging and relevant. Most noticeably, the subject matter reflected in his work is surprising, thought-provoking, and can challenge student views and assumptions about artists and ceramic work. After all, how many teapots have you seen that feature Jay-Z and Harriet Tubman together?
2. Jaime Domínguez
Mexican artist Jaime Domínguez is known for his minimalist work that is great for your students who love color and design. His designs are laced with architecture and geometry. He draws inspiration from Mexican crafts and indigenous art. While his own process is rooted in research, some students will find it refreshing he’s “more interested in the viewer appreciating my work for its appearance and aesthetics, than trying to understand and explain it academically.”
3. Barbara Rivera
A perfect resource for portrait units, Barbara’s colorful images can show students how much about the figure can be reflected in one image. Through color and symbolism, each of her images tells a story about the figure. Inspired by her Cuban and Mexican descent, Barbara says her paintings “are a reflection of my life, my journey, and of the things that are important to me, as influenced by my surroundings: people, places, cultures, and things that I love.” Her message can inspire students to create from within themselves and tell their own stories.
4. María Martínez-Cañas
Born in Cuba, Martínez-Cañas’ prolific career has featured a number of awards and her artwork is in collections all over the United States. Her success is largely the result of her “insatiable drive to experiment with different photography techniques.” Martínez-Cañas’ body of work showcases various approaches that could appeal to students in photography, design, and painting courses. She is a great example for students as they try new ideas, styles, and materials.
5. Niege Borges
As a graphic designer and illustrator, Brazilian native Borges’ work can captivate young viewers through her use of color and subject matter. The approachable imagery is perfect for class discussions and lessons on the elements and principles of art and design. Her work typically features women of color, and “even though she works with different illustration styles, her personal work has a lot of textures and often portrays fabulous women and fashion.” In addition to her illustrations, Borges shows her range by designing for high profile clients like Giorgio Armani, Twitter, and Visa.
6. Johanna Toruño
As the creator of the “The Unapologetic Street Series,” street artist Johanna Toruño is all about sending a message through her work and using her designs and posters to amplify her voice and the voices of others. Born in El Salvador and currently living in Brooklyn, NY, Toruño’s work “was inspired and taught by my experiences growing up in the aftermath of the civil war in my country to use poster work as a powerful medium to self-express.” Her series includes posters throughout the city, and she has also created a line of skateboards featuring her designs. Toruño’s work can be a resource for students who are looking to see how their voices can be shared through art and brought to the people.
Art is a powerful tool for teaching students about artists from different backgrounds and cultures other than their own. Supported by the National Arts Standards, embedding diverse artists into your curriculum is good teaching. Each of these artists tells a different story through their work and could inspire a student in your class. Or, perhaps the artwork and approaches inspire a future lesson for one of your courses. And if you aren’t sure yet how to bring these artists into your art room, developing your own library of artists and images could lay the groundwork for something great down the road.
What projects could be created inspired by one of these artists?
What other Latino and Latina artists do you recommend?
Magazine articles and podcasts are opinions of professional education contributors and do not necessarily represent the position of the Art of Education University (AOEU) or its academic offerings. Contributors use terms in the way they are most often talked about in the scope of their educational experiences.