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Nivia Gonzalez



Nivia Gonzalez (1946-2017) is probably best known for providing the cover art for books by Sandra Cisneros and Alice Walker, but her art can be found in a wide range of places, from the Smithsonian Latino Center in Washington to small, locally owned restaurants in San Antonio. She often depicted a similar subject: the solemn faces of brown-skinned women, adorned by generous pieces of shimmering gold leaf and vivid colors.

At the peak of her career in the late '80s and early '90s, Gonzalez received dozens of commissions in short spans of time. To help with the work load, Gonzalez often asked her twin daughters to underpaint, or apply the initial coat of paint to a canvas. Her daughters recall sitting in the living room of their home, applying shades of blue to canvasses while Gonzalez watched old movies in her bedroom in rare moments of rest.

Gonzalez's impressive flow of art came to an abrupt halt in 1997, when a car accident left the artist in a temporary coma and with significant brain damage. For a brief period of time, Gonzalez lost mobility on the left side of her body – including her painting hand. Though Gonzalez's ability to paint returned, her daughter said some of her more technical painting skills did not. But she continued to paint her most common subject, woman. She never romanticized or idealized the image of a woman, but sought to empower woman by avoiding reducing them to a stereotype.

Gonzalez past away in June 2017.
View works by Nivia Gonzalez