These 8 queer Hispanics are shaking up the art world

Daniel Arzola. LGBTQ Latinx, Hispanic artists
Daniel Arzola Photo: Mikha Dominguez

Queer Hispanic artists have made significant and transformative contributions to the art world, enriching it with their unique perspectives and voices. Many use their platforms to raise awareness of LGBTQ+ rights and social justice issues. Their art becomes a form of protest.

These eight artists explore the multifaceted nature of their cultural heritage, gender, and sexuality, often challenging stereotypical portrayals and creating space for marginalized voices.

Whether through photography, painting, or digital media, they inspire and shape the art world’s future, inviting new generations of creators to explore the vast possibilities of self-expression and social commentary.

1. Joey Terrill

Joey Terrill’s work spans various mediums, including painting, photography, and mixed media, combining personal photographs, pop culture imagery, and works by other queer creators. His creations have evolved from capturing intimacy among his friends and lovers at the beginning of the AIDS crisis into more conceptual paintings using a photorealistic style.

2. Alma Lopez

Alma Lopez was born in Mexico, but moved to Los Angeles as a child. Her art frequently portrays Mexican historical and cultural figures filtered through a radical feminist lesbian lens. Combining digital media with traditional techniques, Lopez’s creations are intended to empower women and indigenous Mexicans by reappropriating symbols from a time when women played a more prominent role in the culture. Her work is often seen as controversial.

3. Delilah Montoya

Delilah Montoya primarily uses photography, printmaking, and digital media to explore the intersection of culture and sexuality. While her visually striking photographs frequently explored feminist spirituality using icons like the Virgin of Guadalupe and Doña Sebastian in the ’90s, her most recent work has focused on the hardships migrants face while crossing the border between Mexico and the United States.

4. Rafael Trelles

Puerto Rican postmodern artist Rafael Trellis is celebrated for his vivid and imaginative experimental graphical work designed for placement in urban settings like sidewalks, walls, and telephone poles. Trelles’ art has been praised for its ability to transcend cultural boundaries and challenge established norms, offering a fresh perspective on the intersections of queer and Latine identities.

5. Nao Bustamante

Boundary-pushing multidisciplinary artist Nao Bustamante explores themes of gender, sexuality, and cultural identity in her thought-provoking and often provocative art. As a queer artist of Mexican-American heritage, Bustamante has used performance art, sculpture, installation, and video to confront societal expectations and stereotypes while celebrating the beauty of diversity.

6. Daniel Arzola

Daniel Arzola is an illustrator and human rights activist known for his socially engaged art that addresses LGBTQ+ rights and gender equality. A queer artist of Venezuelan-American heritage, his work has been widely shared on social media, and his series of posters, “No Soy Tu Chiste” (I’m Not a Joke), was the first LGBTQ+ campaign to reach the media in Venezuela. The Carlos Jáuregui station of the Buenos Aires subway features a mural, stairs, and balconies designed by Arzola that documents the struggle of the Argentinian queer community.

7. Rafael Esparza

Rafael Esparza’s sculpture and installation art explores themes of cultural identity and queerness by incorporating found materials and natural elements. As a queer artist of Mexican-American heritage, he challenges preconceived notions about migration and belonging juxtaposed with the importance of empathy and understanding.

8. Carlos Betancourt

Influenced by personal memories, Puerto Rican artist Carlos Betancourt believes that one’s experiences inform art, not vice versa. Incorporating photography, painting, and sculpture elements, his art often explores themes of memory and nostalgia. His pieces are part of public collections at the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery and the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.

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