Raquel Reichard interviews Puerto Rican artist Sofía Maldonado-Suárez in “Meet Sofía Maldonado-Suárez, the Boricua-Cubana Artist Behind This Year’s Latin Grammys Awards Poster.” See full article in Remezcla:
When viewers tune into the 21st Annual Latin Grammy Awards on Thursday, they’ll spot the vibrantly-colored artwork of Sofía Maldonado-Suárez . The Latina creative was selected as the official artist of the award show, making her the first boricua to design their poster.
The Puerto Rico-born Maldonado-Suárez, who is of Cuban descent, designed the artwork that’s featured prominently on all of this year’s collateral materials. The timing, she says, couldn’t be more perfect: This year, the Latin Grammys will introduce new categories, including Best Reggaetón Performance and Best Rap/Hip-Hop Song, genres the Caribbean archipelago co-created and themes she explores in her art.
“For me, one of the most exciting parts has been being able to represent Puerto Ricans,” Maldonado-Suárez tells Remezcla. She notes that the new categories, which have plenty of boricua nominees, could bring wins for Puerto Rico that its people—still recovering from hurricanes, earthquakes, the COVID-19 pandemic and political scandals—deserve. Here, we speak with Maldonado-Suárez about the exciting opportunity, her stunning design and her artistic work that explores womanhood, sexuality and trap music.
First, congratulations on being this year’s official artwork creator for the 21st Latin Grammys. That’s very exciting. This is also the first time the award show will include the categories of Best Reggaetón/Trap Song and Best Rap/Hip-Hop Song. Considering Puerto Ricans were co-creators of both hip-hop and reggaetón, how important do you think it is that the person creating artwork this year is boricua or has ties to these genres?
For me, it goes beyond that. Even though I’m boricua, a big part of my body of work since I started has always had a very organic connection with reggaetón, hip-hop and trap. I’ve always been inspired by hip-hop, especially Spanish-language hip-hop, and then later reggaetón. I’ve always been close to these genres, even when they were still underground. At the start of my artistic career, I always wanted to mix these passions of mine. I was used to going to reggaetón parties, to marquesinas, and dancing to the floor. I loved this and wanted to integrate it into my paintings. But it wasn’t until this year that it all clicked. I’ve been working with these themes for such a long time, and now look where it took me. It’s more than me being Latina, and it’s more than me being boricua. This project directly ties into the subjects I’ve been working on for so long, subjects I’ve always brought into my work. For example, in 2010, I had a mural that was protested in Times Square because it illustrated reggaetón dancers rather than so-called professional women. Ten years later, this aesthetic is being celebrated in a big way. It’s brought reassurance to my visual dialogue. [. . .]
On that, what has been the most exciting part about working on this Latin Grammys project?
For me, one of the most exciting parts has been being able to represent Puerto Ricans. We’ve had such a difficult time, from Hurricane María, to the earthquakes and then to our political issues. My country needs good news, not more depressing news. We are amazing and deserve to be celebrated and recognized. I see how proud my people, my followers and my fans are that I got this opportunity to represent our country, our little island. And it’s not just that. If you see the nominations for these new categories, it’s a lot of Puerto Ricans. We’re No. 1 in Spanish trap and reggaetón, so we’re all just very excited. Personally, though, this pandemic has been really hard. At the beginning, all of my gigs closed down, but then out of the blue I got this amazing news. It’s all been very surreal. This project, I hope, will open a lot of doors for a lot of women.
Fingers crossed! In the meantime, where can people find your work?
Right now, my work is up on my Instagram and my website. My website also has some wearables from my Femtrap project. Additionally, I have two exhibitions right now in Puerto Rico. The first one is Las Chicas de Sofía: Una Mirada Introspectiva, which ties in different art works I’ve done from 2010 to 2017 about the women. You can really see the transition in my paintings to drawings. For me, it’s retrospective. That’s at the Sala de Exposiciones del Plata and ends on December 11. That same day, my La Ninfaaa exhibition will open, and this is where I explore female sensuality in a way that mixes trap culture and mythology, largely through my own personal experiences during the pandemic.