BY MONIQUE QUINTANA
Two NYC artists have collaborated on a fun and beautiful pin project to help bring healing to Puerto Rico in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria. Krystal Quiles and Emerald Pellot discuss how they’re using their creativity to raise awareness and celebrate their Latinidad.
Monique Quintana: Can you tell a little about yourselves? Where are you based in? What kind of art do you both create?
Krystal Quiles: I was originally based in the Bronx and am currently working out of Brooklyn. As an illustrator, I combine digital media along with drawing and other traditional mediums to create my work. I enjoy creating gifs, pattern textiles, and collaborating with creatives in different fields.
Emerald Pellot: I am a self-taught digital artist from the Bronx, now residing in Harlem. I design and sell enamel pins via my brand GRL TRBL. My illustrations and pins reflect my often-fraught relationship to social issues as an Afro-Latinx and intersectional feminist.
MQ: Can you explain your inspiration for the design of the pin?
EP: I always intended to use GRL TRBL as a way to create community and give back. I noticed that representation of Latinx, especially Afro-Latinx, was thoroughly missing from the pin community. I still have trouble finding pin makers who are of Dominican and Puerto Rican heritage like myself. I saw a profile of Krystal on Remezcla and basically reached out 10 minutes later, like: "I know I don't know you, but I think you're dope and have a strong voice, want to collaborate on something that reflects our heritage?" She obliged.
KQ: Growing up in the Bronx, I only visited Puerto Rico a few times to see family and explore the island. It always left me with a longing to go back, and I found myself trying to connect through my art. My work started reflecting the tropical nature that I wanted to capture, and in college I started incorporating Vejigante masks in my drawings. I loved the look and meaning of them, and it brought me back to a feeling that I knew where I was from. So when Emerald asked me to design a pin that spoke to my Latinx culture, one of the first things I thought of was the Vejigante masks. It wasn’t until after we had the pin in production that Hurricane Maria happened. I thought about the pins and how they wouldn’t exist at all if it weren’t for generations of Puerto Rican culture before me. It’s part of the island's history and if we can use these pins as a little reminder that Puerto Ricans are a strong united people, then I think it’s worth giving a little back.
We decided to donate proceeds to the Hispanic Federation since they are giving 100 percent of donations to Hurricane Maria relief.
You can order a Puerto Rico Carnival Vejigante Mask Pin here.
Monique Quintana is a contributing writer at Clash Media and Senior Beauty Editor at Luna Luna Magazine. She holds an MFA in Creative Writing from CSU Fresno, and her work has appeared in Huizache, Bordersenses, and The Acentos Review, among other publications. She is a member of the Central Valley Women Writers Color Collective and teaches English at Fresno City College.