Artist Reyna Noriega Explains How She Uses Her Work to Inspire Joy
The Afro-Latina is one of eight artists participating in a new digital art gallery about the Black Lives Matter movement.
Growing up, Reyna Noriega was surrounded by art. "My father was a graphic designer and an artist, so I saw him designing things — logos, t-shirts — and I enjoyed watching him use his sketchbook," she tells People CHICA. "Then I would see things go from his sketchbook to a t-shirt when I was out in the store, and I always thought it was really cool."
Art become Noriega's passion as well, and now she uses her culture in her work. "With portraying women of color, women that I identify with, [I'm sharing] aspects of my culture that I really value," she explains. "Our strength, our vibrancy, the flavor, all of those things, as well as just my affinity for bright colors and doing things that feel uplifting."
This month, she's participating in LIFEWTR's Black Art Rising project, a digital art gallery dedicated to protest art about the Black Lives Matter Movement. "Black Art Rising is an initiative to amplify Black voices, to create opportunities for Black artists," she says. "I've always been a fan of the way that LIFEWTR incorporates art in their bottles ... and seeing all these different ways that art can be used in our day-to-day lives was very important to me, and I was happy to take part."
Noriega doesn't think protest art will stop playing a part in the movement, even as actual protests ebb and flow. "In a lot of ways the momentum will go up and down, people will get frustrated, they'll get tired, they'll get comfortable," she says. "That is a part of any movement. We're used to reading our history books and we think because it's on a timeline that everything happened one by one — we end segregation and then we did this, and that's really not how it was. That's been the hardest thing for me during this pandemic, is realizing that there is so much uncertainty and so much despair, but even in the worst times in the past, people had to take breaks and they had to find time for joy and time to celebrate. Our eyes have been opened to a lot of things. I don't think that that's something that we'll just forget even if things go back to normal."
While she wants her work to be a part of the moment, Noriega also wants it to bring joy to viewers. "I want my work to be a reminder of the joy that will come once we have full liberation," she shares. "Once we have full equality for everyone, I want it to depict the future that we're fighting for. I was very intentional about not making my work about the trauma that we're currently enduring, but just having it as something that instills hope and instills confidence."