Sofia Enriquez is an artist who expresses the diversity, greatness, and vibrant culture that represents who she is as well as her heritage. The way she presents her creativity and heritage to the world comes through bold painted words, bright colors and stylish clothing. For her, National Latinx Heritage Month is celebrated everyday. She has blessed many walls through both paintings and murals. Not only does she create painted furniture, she also paints her designs on gently used clothes and makes them her own.
Spanish and English words are painted onto shirts, pants, hats, coats, and other types of clothing. Faces of different shades are one of her signatures and are often present on Sofia Enriquez personal and custom pieces. People who know her work can proudly wear a custom wearable art piece that she’s painted. It is amazing to look at an item of clothing and know it was a plain and boring shirt until Sofia Enriquez made it into a treasured, wearable piece of art. Enriquez shared, “My practice is very personal. Every time I create a piece, I know that piece will outlive me. Those who collect my work will carry a small moment as an artifact of my life.”
When I asked her how National Latinx Heritage Month impacts her life and art, she replied, “National Hispanic Heritage Month is more like a year-long thing for me since I celebrate my Mexican-American culture in my artistic practice. National Hispanic month shouldn’t be just a month. I think Hispanic and Latinx people deserve to be celebrated all the time for their sacrifices, labor, and the contributions they have made in America. She goes on to add, “With challenges Hispanic and Latinx people face, being a Hispanic woman comes with its own set of challenges.”
I asked her about some of the challenges she has faced not only being a Hispanic woman, but also an artist. Enriquez replies, “Women still get paid less than men in this country. It’s tough for any woman to be a visual artist, and it’s even harder to be a woman of color to be a working artist.” Despite the challenges, there are rewards she receives including personal gratification, public recognition and financial success. “I am often underestimated, but the reward of finishing a project is so much more fulfilling because I am underestimated,” she says.
One of the cool things about her art is that it is not just loved, appreciated, worn, or bought by Hispanic people. Enriquez explains, “The wearable artwork I’ve made takes on a life of its own after it leaves my studio. It’s exciting knowing that my work is collected by people all over the world in a very ‘under the radar’ way. Pictures people send and post about wearing my art makes me so happy. I know I bring joy to people who now own and wear a unique piece of art.” She first started painting on thrift store clothing when she was in high school. “I needed clothes that would fit my personality a little more, so I began cutting, sewing and painting them. It was my way of feeling comfortable in other people’s clothes. Eventually, I made a small business out of it,” Enriquez said.
Sofia Enriquez’s collage style of art allows an overall concept to come together and tell a story. Whether there are phrases or one word, her style reflects and connects to her personally, but can also be interpreted by the new owner of the custom piece. When asked why she chose to express herself in this form of art, she replied, “I am just letting my brain drip. I had trouble using verbal communication as a child and painting helped me develop language. Painting in an overlayed collaged way has helped me make up for all those lost sentences that I wanted to express.”
When I asked about her signature head paintings and their meanings, she indicated that people ask her this question all the time. An Enriquez piece might include a huge painted face or small one on the shoulder area of a blazer. Her faces are a large part of paintings on clothes, murals, or whatever else her paintbrushes desire. She responds, “If people see people, they want to know why. I use faces like icons, they don’t have an age or gender. I am inspired by the similar featured faces present in classic artworks from ancient Egyptian portraiture to ancient Roman Catholic paintings. I like how similar styles have carried themselves throughout the years of humanity and my portraiture is inspired by ancient artists.”
Creating usually starts with an emotion for Enriquez, which leads her inspiration to create. When I asked what emotions she feels when painting she responded, “When I’m painting, I don’t feel. It’s almost like I ‘ve clocked out emotionally, and I am letting the colors and the lines do the feeling for me. I know how cheesy that sounds, but it’s the truth. I think the aftermath is when I come back to the normal feeling part of myself self and talk about my work with others when the emotions I put on hold begin to bubble up.”
With so much to look forward to from this amazing artist, she is also looking forward to the future of how Latinx Heritage will be celebrated and recognized. “I am excited to see how National Hispanic Month will evolve in the future and what new artists, activists and movements will contribute to the Latinx community that enriches American culture,” said Enriquez.
Sofia Enriquez travels all around the world, painting on walls and clothes. She leaves her presence and heritage boldly and brightly for people to see and wear. To keep up with her, see what she has created and purchase her art go to SofiaEnriquez.com.
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