It can be argued that Latina artists are now more visible than ever, thanks to the efforts of conscious curators and art scholars to correct the historic marginalization of their work. Yet, statistics show Latina artists remain underrepresented in the nation’s most prestigious platforms. Only 30 percent of artists represented by New York City’s top galleries are women and only 1.2 percent Latinx, according to a 2017 study. Unsurprisingly, 80.5 percent of artists are white.
Facing limited access to traditional art institutions, Latina creatives are constructing their own spaces and networks. Collectives such as the five listed below not only uplift the work of up-and-coming Latina artists, but also offer practical skills and know-how to help women of color creative get ahead. Collectives can’t immediately solve the art world’s lack of diversity, but collaboration – particularly the intentional and intersectional kind witnessed in these collectives – can collectively move the art world in the right direction. As The Bettys founder Aurora Diaz argues: “Every little step counts and collaborations lead to community building and empowerment of each other.
Four years ago, artist Aurora Diaz founded The Bettys to provide a platform for women of color artists. With the help of Julia Arredondo of Vice Versa Press, Diaz launched a successful zine that encompasses illustration, photography, personal essays, and more.
More than 150 queer, femme, and female creatives from around the world have collaborated on The Betty zines, which may be why Diaz recognizes these self-published magazines as a crucial platform for female expression: “I am constantly telling female creatives I ever meet they should make a zine. I think there is something therapeutic and fulfilling of creating a piece of media that was solely made by an idea in your head.”
Learn more about The Bettys here.
Ni Santas Collective
For the women of color behind Ni Santas, art is a powerful tool for individual and community empowerment. Founded in 2016, the Los Angeles-based collective is “creating a safe space, rewriting our stories through socially conscious art while promoting sisterhood through skill sharing.”
With more than 9,000 followers on Instagram, Ni Santas uses its online platform to highlight the work of fellow women of color artists and advocate for social justice. If you’re an eager artist in Los Angeles, keep an eye out for Ni Santa’s workshops that teach everything from color pencil drawing to stencil making.
Learn more about Ni Santas Collective here.
Mujeres de Maiz
With more than 20 years of engagement with the Los Angeles community, Mujeres de Maiz is considered the bedrock of the local arts and activist scene. Initially a one-day, all-women arts show and zine, Mujeres de Maiz has evolved into a multi-generational, multicultural collective that offers necessary art education and platforms for young and adult artists, poets, and musicians. Its art programming is impressive: an all-female teaching staff offers instruction on drawing, painting, weaving, printmaking, 3D sculpture, and portfolio preparedness while also centering on decolonial practices. Apart from art and community workshops, Mujeres de Maiz also stages live art shows, exhibitions, and a women’s market as well as produce the longest-running women of color zine.
Learn more about Mujeres de Maiz here.
Media information on women’s health is often confusing and, sometimes, misleading. Womanly Magazine offers an alternative: a digital and print publication, researched, written, and illustrated by female creatives. Womanly takes a holistic approach to health information. In the latest issue, Matters of the Heart, Womanly interviews cardiovascular experts about their work with communities of color, examines the effects of stress on female political activists, such as Erica Garner, who died last year of a heart attack, and reflects on our personal confrontations with heartbreak.
Learn more about Womanly Magazine here.
Coletivo Chá, or “Tea Collective” in Portuguese, reminds us that street art is more than just graffiti and also, teeming with female talent. Founded in 2010, Coletivo Chá is the union of five Brazilian street artists, who color city walls with stickers. Cutesy, fun, and vibrant, its stickers and illustrations speak on female empowerment, solidarity among women of color, and liberation.
Learn more about Coletivo Chá here.