San Juan, Puerto Rico-born artist Sofia Maldonado designed and painted the mural that occupies the main wall of Outbrain’s new global headquarters. She recently sat down with me to discuss the process and inspiration for the mural. Click on the video player above for a time-lapse of Sofia’s creative journey.
What was the inspiration behind the mural at our headquarters?
I have a strong aesthetic of colorful and organic forms. It’s a style I’ve been developing for about ten years now. My inspiration for those forms comes from the Caribbean landscape, the clouds, and the sea. Nuphar and Josh [the Outbrain employees who commissioned the mural] worked with me on the colors. They wanted really vibrant colors — yellows and the Outbrain orange. This mural is a great accomplishment of what I’ve been working on the last few years. I was able to incorporate more blues into my pallet, and incorporate the wood cutouts — that I’ve been working on separate from my murals — into the piece.
Who are some of the artists that have influenced you the most?
I’ve been influenced by artists like Yinka Shonibare, Barry McGee, Alice Neel, Louise Bourgeois and, of course, Andy Warhol. Although their work is not similar to mine, the way they think and the way they create art and their consistency [has influenced me].
Tell me about some of the other murals you’ve created.
Some of the more important works [include] a 2008 commission by Real Art Ways to paint a mural in Hartford, CT. I was also commissioned by The Times Square Alliance. [Sofia’s work has also been commissioned by Northern State University (SD), Vermont Studio Center (VT), The Ringling Museum (FL), El Taller Puertorriqueño (PA), the University of Puerto Rico, The Museum of Art of Puerto Rico, and the 10th Havana Biennale (Cuba).]
Currently I am the artist in residence for Cre8tive Youth, a local initiative founded by Mista Oh and Robin Cembalest, to engage inner city kids into New York City arts. I am a current grantee of the Manhattan Community Arts Fund by the LMCC, and will be working on a mural project with the students.
What’s next for you?
On June 28th my first museum solo show opened at the Museo de Arte Contemporaneo de Puerto Rico. I was also recently part of a show that opened in Greenpoint. This year I will part of a group show at the Museum of Art and Design. I’m also starting to work on a new series of paintings for my next Chelsea solo show at Magnan Metz Gallery in the spring.