When it comes to pursuing your dreams and passions, compromise is often part of the journey. For Miami-based artist Reyna Noriega, her approach to art is the antithesis of compromise and sacrifice and all about embracing her culture, identity, and journey in ways that allow her to prioritize herself.
Born to Cuban and Jamaican-Bahamian parents, Noriega embraces her roots as an Afro-Caribbean Latina, channeling her vision across diverse mediums, from canvases, textiles, and accessories to building facades, magazine covers, and most recently, a collaboration with Schick Intuition in honor of Our Heritage Month.
The Schick Intuition X Reyna Noriega razor, exclusively available at Target, features her signature style of organic elements and faceless figures in bold pink and cream tones. The razor, which doesn’t require shave gel, is optimized for an on-the-go shave that delivers without compromising moisture or shave quality. For the Miami native, a reliable razor is crucial for a last-minute trip to the beach. “(When) I’m going to the beach, forgetting to shave beforehand has always been an issue for me. [So, you shave,] and now your skin is irritated. So, the Schick razor eliminates that issue, and I don’t have to think, ‘Okay, but if I shaved now, will my skin be irritated? Am I going to be dry?’”
While Noriega’s artistic vision and craftsmanship continue to propel her to new heights, her message serves as a beacon of inspiration, particularly for Latine creatives who grapple with self-assurance and yearn to see their reflections in art, media, and culture. Her most recent publication, “In Bloom: A Poetic Documentary Of the Journey to Higher Self,” is a collection of introspective poems that explore themes of self-discovery and transformation.
Whether expressed through visual arts, poetry, or simply conversing with Noriega, her unwavering message remains constant: embrace your culture and celebrate yourself. As Noriega aptly puts it, “If it is born in your mind, it is because you are capable of bringing it to life.”
When did you start creating art?
My whole life, basically. My father was an artist, so I sketched alongside him with my little doodles as he sketched in his sketchbook. As I got older, of course, confidence was a thing. So I stopped drawing for a while and convinced myself that I wasn’t good at it until my 11th-grade year when I took another art class and regained my confidence — and I fell in love with (art) again. And it became an escape for me, a way to communicate, a way to make people happy. So, I just loved all of the things that it brought for me.
When did you realize that you wanted to pursue art full-time?
In small stages, over and over, I was getting confirmation that I felt good here. Being around people in the arts makes me feel accepted, happy, and like I can imagine a better future. And so, whether it was my Art Basel internship in college, or after college as an art teacher, or going to events in my free time that were art centered, (it built my) confidence and (I was) just feeling happier and happier as I kept having those experiences.
And how did your cultural background inform your work?
My father is Cuban. He is the first of his three siblings to be born in America. His parents emigrated in ’68, right when he was born. My mother is Bahamian-Jamaican. So, I have the Miami melting pot as a part of my culture. I’m used to a sense of vibrancy; I’m used to a love for music and food. And having the best experiences in life with your family and (being) very joy-centered. I’ve always brought that into my artwork. I’ve always brought that into what I want to experience in this world, like contextualizing the American dream within those things that I love so much about my culture, so not sacrificing family, not sacrificing joy, and dancing and enjoying a meal together to have those things.
You’ve mentioned that Latinas inspire a lot of your art. Who are some powerful Latinas in your life that inspire you?
Obviously, my family first. My abuela, she’s such a strong woman. But growing up, listening to Celia Cruz, knowing her story, knowing what she represented. I had the honor of doing a portrait of Goyo last year or two years ago and meeting her in person… [She is] an amazing character and amazing woman. And just people on the screen, Rosario Dawson, Gina Torres, and what they mean for our culture. What they tell us about what is possible, and how that gives us the energy and the strength to persevere and to keep striving for more and not settling for whatever we have seen maybe immediately around us or been told our value is.
You’ve also partnered with several brands in the past. How do you approach each individual partnership?
I love that, first of all, these brands are coming to me because of how I tell my story. And because of the way that I represent my culture. So, that always makes it exciting to pick out what aspects of that brand align with my purpose and mission. For Schick, it’s self-care. It’s this celebration of femininity, taking care of ourselves, and being able to carve out that time. And so it’s like a way that I can reimagine my work in the context, and so it’s like a fun challenge and a fun way to grow as an artist.
You can honor the sacrifices of your family without sacrificing your dreams.
What does self-care look like for you?
It means prioritizing my well-being, and sometimes, it means going against some of the things I’ve inherited, like putting everyone else before yourself and carrying all the burdens yourself. From a cultural standpoint, I’ve learned to move away from self-sacrifice to have self-preservation, experience self-care, and create things everyone can enjoy. Like filling yourself first, not pouring from an empty cup is very important to my self-care and creative practice.
What advice would you give other young Latinas interested in pursuing a career or a future in the arts?
You can honor the sacrifices of your family without sacrificing your dreams and use the fearlessness that they brought to this country to pursue a territory that is unknown to them and to show yourself and show them what’s possible. Because when you want something and look into it, you realize that the opportunities are endless. So your career as an artist won’t look like mine; it doesn’t have to look like the next person. But art is in literally everything that we do and everything that we use, and so there’s no reason that you would not be successful.
You can purchase the Schick Intuition X Reyna Noriega razor here.