Cristina Martinez Champions Black and Brown People in Her Work


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Visual artist Cristina Martinez‘s first encounter with art came from watching Bob Ross on TV. Though she admired his extraordinary talent — it’s what first sparked her interest in painting — she lamented the fact that it was challenging to find artists who looked like her. Today, with a colorful portfolio of self-portraits and abstract prints, plus a third collaboration with Nordstrom, she’s increasing representation for artists of color on her own. In fact, her work is rooted in making space for Black and brown people.

Born an only child in Tacoma, WA, to a 15-year-old mother, the Afro-Latina artist spent a lot of time alone in her early years. While her mother worked three jobs, Martinez would gather nail polish and napkins and create elaborate paintings, which eventually gave way to more expansive forms of self-expression. True to form, Martinez’s latest collection for Nordstrom is also informed by her surroundings. Styled and photographed by her friends and relatives, the collection is “inspired by community,” she tells POPSUGAR. With cloud-print lounge sets and butterfly-print separates, the designs blend Martinez’s bold artwork with classic Nordstrom silhouettes.

The butterflies strike a sentimental chord. “They come from a story my grandmother told me when I was younger,” she says. “Before my great-grandmother passed away, she had told my grandmother to always think of her whenever she sees a butterfly.” Martinez shared the story with her daughter, who now gets excited whenever she encounters a butterfly.

Whether it’s the butterfly pattern or the abstract face print, each detail about the collection holds meaning for Martinez, which makes it a truly unique launch. Ahead, shop our favorite pieces.

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