For San Jacinto artist Barbara Rivera, painting has become a form of liberation and a form in which she can speak up about issues that are currently affecting her community.

Born to immigrant parents, she takes inspiration from both her father and mother’s cultures. Her father is a refugee from Cuba and her mother like many, immigrated to the United States from Mexico.

The proud Cuban-Mexican American artist is completely self-taught and began her painting career 10 years ago. But getting to be a full-time painter was not a fast journey, it wasn’t until she quit her job as a full-time secretary at San Jacinto High School and until her three children went off to college that she was able to really focus on her art.

I was finally able to really enjoy doing what I like doing which is painting all the beauty that is in our culture,” said Rivera.

To say that Rivera’s main themes for her paintings involve different aspects of her culture is an understatement. Almost every painting you see of hers is filled with bright colors.

It is culture, that is my inspiration, we have the most amazing culture and I feel like I’ve been chosen to represent it through my paintings,” Rivera said.

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Photo Courtesy of: Barbara Rivera