It’s an exciting time to be an artist of color in Chicago. While the media creates a violent narrative of the city, its underground art scene is flourishing – and collectives of musicians, visual artists, writers, nightlife movers and shakers, and more are creating work that reflects how Latino identity intersects with the larger Chicago community. Many of these creatives have been highlighted by the CumbiaSazo crew, who regularly put on for la gente at their parties. (In fact, they currently have an open call out right now for artists & vendors interested in getting featured in 2016).
We wanted to highlight a handful of these up-and-coming visual artists and vendors whose work represents what it’s like to grow up Latino in the Chi. From interpreting Loteria cards to hand-made ‘Made in Chicago’ rings, here’s a glimpse of what’s good with the scene.
Graphic designer and illustrator Missy Rosa’s Chicagoteria project uses witty plays on words and images to create a version of Loteria cards that intersect the Chicago and Latino experience. Each illustration is based on her experiences growing up as a Mexi-Rican in the Chi, including cards like the Chicago Chipster (chicano hipster) and her funny take on the Bean (the frijol).
The illustrations are available for purchase as prints, greeting cards, buttons, and pins. Check them out here.
Bodega 18 is an online shop inspired by Chicago’s infamous 18th street in Pilsen. Also known as la diezyocho, the street runs through the heart of the Mexican-American community, and although it is increasingly struggling with gentrification, there are still many, like Bodega 18, who are working to represent and reflect the spirit of the neighborhood. Check out their Big Cartel for custom-made earrings, bags, jewelry boxes, art, and more.
Ivan Vazquez is a dope artist mixing modern abstract expressionism, realism and surrealism. Born in Nezahualcoyotl, Mexico, and raised on the south side of Chicago, his work is influenced by street life and music from the 1990s. A self-taught artist, Vazquez’s work reflects social, political and urban issues. Check out his work on the gram.
El Machete Illustrated
El Machete Illustrated is a politically conscious cartoon by Eric J. Garcia. Born and raised in Albuquerque’s South Valley, Garcia earned his Bachelors of Fine Arts from the University of New Mexico and went on to get his MFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.
Critiquing current political issues and mainstream media, El Machete Illustrated explores issues affecting Latinos, and doesn’t hesitate to tell it how it is by, in Garcia’s words, “cutting through the bull#?*t.”
Mano y Metal
Self-taught artist Desiree created Mano y Metal, an online jewelry shop, back in 2010. Taking inspiration from writers ranging from Virginia Woolf to Sor Juana Ines de la Cruz, Mano y Metal provides handmade jewelry with a twist. You can purchase her work here.