Puerto Rican Women Killing It in the Independent Art Scene: María Cristina

With the internet being so easy to access, it has become easier for independent artists to find an audience and let their work be known. As a result, a variety of movements, collectives, and scenes have found a way to pave their path. The independent art scene in Puerto Rico is no different. Recently, many artists from a variety of disciplines have found platforms that have made it easier for them to share their work. In addition, small businesses such as Electroshock in Santurce and Rio Piedras, bars like Off The Wall in Mayaguez, and libraries like La Casita Books and Gifts in Aguadilla have provided up-and-coming artists a space to display their talents. “Puerto Rican Women Killing It in the Independent Art Scene” is a series of  interviews that provides a glimpse at some of the women who have recently gained recognition in the art scene. Though the artists are asked similar questions, some are asked queries surrounding their work, specifically.

 

María Cristina is a practitioner of many things, but overall is a freelance photographer.

 

 

What got you into photography?

I’ve always been a “behind the scenes” kind of person. I got my first camera as a 16th birthday present and even though I was fascinated by all the magic you can create with a simple click, it wasn’t until later in my life — at 24 — that I seriously started taking pictures as a creative outlet completely separate from my day-to-day job as a Copywriter.

 

How did you develop your style?

Finding my style has been a process that I’m still working on. However, it all began with my first photography project back in early 2017, Love the Locks, a portrait series that explored people’s relationship with their hair. It was born out of my own struggles growing up and the endless curiosity I have regarding the way others think, feel, and behave. I met a lot of wonderful, intelligent, and beautiful women who so rawly opened themselves up, sharing both positive and not so positive stories about their childhood. The simplicity of Love the Locks evolved into the more editorial yet down to earth look that “Bien Casual” has. It’s very important for me to feel connected to what I’m creating, I lack the ability to pretend to be something I’m not, so my style is everything I am: organic, never retouched, moody, and so very human.

 

 

What are some of your influences and inspirations?

I’m extremely inspired by music; often times I create playlists specifically for each session and send them to the models so they can have a more tangible grasp of the story behind each concept. Little, everyday things also spark my imagination; the way shadows form through fences at a specific time, how delicate flowers look, the colors of a Ferris Wheel, leaves rustling, and just about anything that involves some form of bittersweetness. I’m a sucker for melancholy.

 

Is there any other form of art you wish to pursue? If so, what field and why?

I’m a drama kid at heart. I had a few options for this question, like playing the piano or drawing, but I love musicals so much. I perform on my way to and from work, and I wish I could belt out a song with the easiness of the likes of Kristin Chenoweth or Jessie Mueller. I’m not entirely sure I’ll ever get up on stage, I’m too shy for that, but I’m of the opinion that musicals make everything better, even if just for a few minutes.

 

 

What do you think about the current state of the arts in Puerto Rico?

It’s complicated, to say the least. Massive budget cuts, poorly managed administration, corruption, and a bunch of different factors that were only worsened by the Hurricane have affected every area of the arts for as long as I can remember. The struggle is nothing new for artists though. We keep on sailing.

 

What do you think about the current state of the independent scene in Puerto Rico?

It makes me very happy to see so many independent artists doing their thing despite limitations. It’s not easy, it has never been, but artistry comes with its own streak of stubbornness and conviction that, though varying in each person, usually creates wonderful things, like bringing people together.

 

 

If a young girl came up to you and said she wanted to be an artist, what would be your advice for her?

I have two pieces of advice to share. First, never compare yourself to other people. It’s a habit that’s hard to break, especially with the curated moments shown on social media that are so easily comparable when you’re in your PJs, eating ice cream straight from the pint. But you can’t compare your backstage with someone’s spotlight, it’s not healthy. Second, and this one took me a very long time to learn, perfection is the enemy of greatness. For someone whose photography account is named “Bien Casual” (Very Casual), I can go on and on about my struggles with letting things be and being my worst critic.

 

 

What is your biggest goal right now?

To keep creating for the fun of it.

 

What do you seek to achieve with your work?

Freedom.

 

Follow María Cristina on Instagram

 

All of the pictures in this article were provided by María Cristina