Tagged hispanic color

When Woman Became the Sea Hispanic Childrens Book illustrated by Latina artist Cristina Acosta

When Woman Became the Sea, Hispanic Latino Children’s Book

Hispanic or Latino children’s books actually written or illustrated by a Latino/a in the U.S. during the 1990s were rare birds. Though the Hispanic population of the United States was quickly becoming the dominant subculture, not a lot in the arts, design and decor fields reflected that fact. Fortunately, forward-thinking Anglos that were already positioned in the publishing world took notice and did their part. The owners and staff and writers at Beyond Words Publishing in the 1990s were those people.

During the time writer, Susan Strauss was putting together her new book based on a Costa Rican Creation story, she happened to be seated next to me at the brunch of a mutual friend. Our conversation turned to her story and by the time we were done with our meal we had a plan to present to her publisher, Beyond Words. Our plan was accepted and I joined the team as the Latina illustrator.

Though that doesn’t sound like a big deal now that time has passed, it was then. I was so excited. Not only did I get to make a contribution as an artist and mother (my daughter was five at the time,”When Woman Became the Sea,” was published), I got the personal satisfaction of being a published Latina. It was very gratifying. I don’t care for cultural appropriation. Despite the best of intentions when bringing Hispanic products to market, when all of the names attached to the products are Anglo or culturally divergent, it can come across as appropriation.

The book has long since sold out and you can only get copies on Amazon, I am still very proud of the project. The beautiful marriage between Susan Strauss’ elegant writing, the typesetting and my illustrations is holding up well.

Here’s a few of the reviews for “When Woman Became the Sea”: 

“A lovely creation myth from Costa Rica is retold in read-aloud rhythm and illustrated with gorgeous, tropical paintings.  Sound effects are indicated by the waving, explosive typeface that will inspire dramatic story hours.  The rich colors and vivid patterns of Acosta’s illustrations echo Latino pottery and design, making this an irresistible package.”

Kirkus Reviews, September 1998

“Acosta illustrates the tale with swirling, thick-lined tropical scenes in which form takes second place to vibrant, emphatic color.  The eye-catching visuals. . . and the author’s natural-sounding language. . . make the tale a promising candidate for reading aloud.”
Booklist, October 1998

“When Woman Became the Sea; A Costa Rican Creation Myth recounts an allegory of the intertwined origins of trees and water in the interplay between Thunder and Sea.”
Bookman’s Weekly, November 1998

“Strauss is a storyteller and her colloquial, rhythmic narrative just begs to be read or told aloud.  The vivid acrylic illustrations make the most of strong shapes, swirling brush strokes and clean blocks of color to create a primitive style emboldened by a sense of movement, perfect for a myth about making and doing.  The page layout is excellent, with spiraled, script like print balancing and enhancing the kinetic look of the artwork.”
School Library Journal, February 1999

When Woman Became the Sea Hispanic Childrens Book illustrated by Latina artist Cristina Acosta
When Woman Became the Sea Hispanic Childrens Book illustrated by Latina artist © Cristina Acosta

When Woman Became the Sea.  By Susan Strauss    Illustrated By Cristina Acosta

Published Fall 1998, Beyond Words Publishing, Inc. Hillsboro, Oregon    ISBN# 1-885223-85-4

Though out of print, used copies may be found on Amazon.
Original paintings (acrylic on paper) are available for sale and/or exhibits. Contact Cristina with your request.

Cooking Up a Color Story

With color on my mind, this past weekend I cooked up a dinner party and menu with a color theme - the red, white and green of the Mexican flag. Inspired by the cookbook, Frida's Fiesta's - Recipes and Reminiscences of Life with Frida Kahlo by Marie-Pierre Colle and Guadalupe Rivera, I've been experimenting with the recipes and themes in the book. A very beautiful cookbook, the photos and stories are inspiring. The recipes. . . well, they remind me of my abuelita's (grandmother's) recipes, something very important is missing from most of them. The missing item is usually an ingredient, amount or technique that ranges between crucial to the success of the recipe to a minor taste problem. Maybe the recipe editor had more to do with this than Frida did, but nonetheless, reading her cookbook reminds me of my abuelita's passionate artistic temperament (she was a concert pianist and gifted chef). The recipes that my abuelita gave me were always more of a suggestion than a solution.

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Hispanic Heritage Month Sept. 15th thru Oct 15th – The Colors of Culture

Celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month is an opportunity to celebrate the beauties and gifts the heritage of Hispanic culture as well as to acknowledge the mosaic of cultures that make up all of the U.S. The irony for me being an acculturated Latina born in Los Angeles is that I know that though Anglos from many cultures have representative crafts saturated with color, like Polish paper-cuts or Scandinavian tole painting, American Anglos will often focus on the colorful aspects of Mexican American visual culture while ignoring most of the subtle colors that are part of the same mix. To this day, there are no Latina visual artists licensing their decor lines at the supported level of acceptance any of the above Anglo artists have achieved.

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Color Use is Not a Slam Dunk

Color use is not a slam dunk. I see this with manufacturers who put a "Latin Color Palette" on a set of sheets or towels, slap a Spanish name on it and expect that they've done their part reaching the Latino market. This is especially annoying when the front person isn't obviously Latino. A few years ago Sears and Ty Pennington did this with a design in his licensed signature line of bedding.

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