Meet the Puerto Rican artist designing the look for this year’s Latin Grammys

Sofia Maldonado said she spent most of her time in quarantine resetting her life and art.

A report by Brittany Valentine for Al Día.

Puerto Rican artist Sofia Maldonado has been chosen as the artwork creator for this year’s Latin Grammy Awards. Maldonado is known for her site-specific murals, community projects, small drawings and canvas paintings, but her work is always evolving. AL DÍA recently spoke to Maldonado to learn about her artwork, background and career. 

On The Creative Process:

When Maldonado created the Grammys piece, she decided to incorporate a tree native to Puerto Rico, known as the yagrumo tree, into the design. The yagrumo tree is a very important tree because it’s one of the first to grow after hurricane devastation, and for this reason, is a symbol of rebirth and resilience. 

She also used a palette of Carribean-inspired, vibrant colors, to emphasize the importance of soaking up all the good that life has to offer, even when times are difficult. The central focus of the piece is the gramophone, symbolizing excellence in music.

On her first steps into the art world:

Maldonado has been painting and doing ceramics ever since she was very young. She attended a public art high school called Central High School for the Visual Arts, and graduated with a B.F.A from the Escuela de Artes Plásticas.  

“In high school I was painting murals, both legally and illegally. I developed mural making on my own, through friends that I knew that worked in graffiti,” she said. 

Throughout her art education, she developed two different paths. One is dedicated to public art, murals and community projects and the other is for her studio work and digital design. 

On her artwork/lifestyle during the pandemic:

In the first two weeks of the pandemic, Maldonado said she was “freaking out,” just like everyone else, but then realized she needed to create silence. She did this by venturing within herself because there was nowhere else to go. Maldonado started practicing kundalini yoga, meditation and visualizations, to keep some positive momentum going for her future. 

“In the pandemic, I got a very clear path of my studio work. I have my abstraction side which is mainly portrayed in murals and in canvas as well. and the other side is the exploration of female sensuality in trap, reggaeton and hip hop culture,” she said.

The pandemic was very much a “reset” for the artist. Maldonado began eating fresh vegetables every day from a local CSA, and started connecting more with her feminine side. 

“I was going to the beach more, walking, understanding the energy of the water and the moon and how that affects me as a female. I was dancing under full moons, not even realizing that it’s like a ritual for awakening your feminine side,” she said. 

From this discovery, she planted a seed for an upcoming exhibition. Maldonado started doing more sketches and drawings that had a correlation with the porn industry because of a “very interesting phenomenon” she admired happening on Instagram. 

The phenomenon began on an account called “demon time,” where a bunch of girls were stripping, but it got banned and was moved over to the platform OnlyFans. From there, Beyoncé backed it up with a song collaboration with rapper Megan Thee Stallion on the remix of the latter’s “Savage.” 

“Hips tick tock when I dance, on the Demon Time, she might start an OnlyFans,” read the lyrics. 

The project is actually known as La Ninfaaa, and it debuts this December. It will feature a series of digital drawings complemented by paintings and possibly a video.

“It’s a mix of the porn, stripping, and OnlyFans world,” said Maldonado. “All the history I’ve been studying through hip hop, trap and reggaeton culture and my own perception of what it means to be a Latina woman.”” 

She also said there will be merchandise alongside the drawings.

On Being Chosen:

Maldonado is honored to have been chosen to create the art for the 21st Latin Grammy Awards. She feels that there’s power in having a Puerto Rican artist represent the Latin Grammys poster because the country has gone through so much in the past few years, politically, economically and environmentally. 

“The Latin Grammys for Puerto Rico is big because there’s so many reggaeton singers and other Latino singers here,” she said. “So for me, this achievement is about everybody, not just for me as an artist.” 

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