Rachel Matos is a 23 year old Latina artist residing in Miami, Florida. Born in San Diego, she moved to Puerto Rico at the age of 3. Rachel lived in Puerto Rico until the age of 13 and then moved to Miami. She currently works as an art teacher in the hopes of traveling and inspiring others around the world with her art.

When did you have your epiphany that you were meant to be an artist?

I actually began taking private art lessons in Puerto Rico at the age of 12 but it wasn’t until I got to middle school and I painted, what back then seemed like the best painting in the world, a picture of a girl in a basketball court. Looking back now I don’t know exactly what gave me so much confidence about my talents but ever since that painting I knew there was nothing else I wanted to do than be an artist. No matter what the cost.

What are the factors that influence you? What is your muse?

I have always been very interested in the female figure as a thing of beauty; the power that we have as women and how we can use our bodies as power rather than as an object. The urban world has also had an effect on me as far as my color palette goes. My paintings tend to be very bright and alive, very saturated in resemblance to graffiti. Many things catch my eye but for some reason I always end up tying it back to the figure and the urban.

We don’t want to sound cliché, but as a woman and Latina, do you find that there are greater challenges in the art world for you?

I think there is definitely a stereotype for Latino artist. Many of us paint very traditional with traditional subjects like landscape of our home countries, of typical Latin imagery or images that talk about how we have been oppressed. I think getting over this stereotype and surprising my audience and art collector with new and fresh ideas will be my biggest challenges. It is always hard to be young and a woman since most artist don’t make names for themselves until much older. But this is why I think Miami is a perfect stepping stone for me to branch out in because of the large Hispanic community here and the city life compliments my painting style.

What one word drives you?

Determination. My father is a very important influence in my life and every time I am having a lazy moment or I am in an artistic rut he always brings this word up. He tells me I have to determine to make more paintings to get out there and make more contacts. I have to be determined to want to succeed because no else is going to do it for me. With out determination and drive you cant accomplish anything. For me this word is what really keeps me going when I need it most

Okay so you knew it was coming, what is up with all the “nalgas”?

Hahaha. Like I said before the female figure is beautiful, intimidating and graceful. I think what is the most interesting part is that it can be all of this at once. “Nalgas” are just a part of who we are, especially Hispanic women. My paintings say “we should not be ashamed, we should embrace”. Our bodies are a source of power. Most of my figure paintings are power poses that when placed in the right setting can be very intimidating, which is what I am trying to convey.

The titles of your pieces featuring women have strong messages (You ain’t getting mine, I ain’t your b*, I ain’t washing no dishes) while seeming to expose the vulnerable side of women through the nudes. Are you talking about the objectification of women and specifically Latinas? We notice that you paint images of sexy women, gangsta ladies- is this a commentary on how Latinas are viewed?

The point of my figure series is to convey the power the female figure has. To many, the nude figure might seem vulnerable but to me the naked body is a symbol of confidence. Depicting these women naked is a way of conveying how our bodies are a source of empower, how we can intimidate while still being beautiful and sexy. My paintings are aggressive. These women can be me, they can be someone you know, and they can be you. These women symbolize all women who are not afraid of getting want they want and who aren’t ashamed of who they are. The bandanas are what create this “any women, but no women” effect, by covering their faces I am taking away their identity yet giving them identity by allowing the audience to become these women. The bandanas also serve as another source of intimidation; similar to the way they are used in gangs. A symbol of that urban influence.

What kind of advice do you have for someone who
aspires to be an artist?

Don’t give up, don’t let people discourage you from chasing your dreams. As artist we will always have doubters you have to use them as fuel for whatever your next protect is.

Congratulations on reaching the finals for Miller Lite Latino, how can we help you win? What would it mean to you to win the competition?

Anyone who has Facebook can go to the Miller Lite Latino page and vote for me in the “expressa tu passion” tab. My painting will be up some time next week for the semifinal round.
To win this competition would mean the push I need to really have my name known and it will get me on my way to accomplish my dream of being an artist. It would reassure me that what I do impacts people.

Any final words?

I just hope people realize how important the arts are to life, especially for young children. If you are an artist it is really important that we keep art alive, we need to give back whenever we can. Children are the ones who will carry the arts to the next generation, we have to do our part to get them interested, to get them started. Art creates hope, joy and most importantly inspiration. Without art life would be boring.

To see more of Rachel’s art visit artederachelm.webs.com.