Lucinda “La morena” Hinojos’s rise in the street art scene has been a long time in the making. Over the years, she’s created more than a dozen murals throughout her home state of Arizona. Now, she’s the first-ever Chicana, Indigenous female artist to partner with the National Football League (NFL) as a Super Bowl artist—her work will be featured on Super Bowl LVII tickets and throughout Arizona ahead of the game on Feb. 12 between the Kansas City Chiefs and Philadelphia Eagles in Glendale.
Marissa Solis, senior vice president of global brand and consumer marketing more the NFL, says the vibrancy and energy Hinojos captures in her paintings is striking and what ultimately led to the partnership. “Her unique approach to color and design makes her the perfect artist to bring to life the themes of celebration, unity, local culture, and football in our Super Bowl LVII theme art,” Solis says.
Before immersing herself in the art world, Hinojos says her life was full of sports, so this partnership with the NFL felt like a natural fit. "Since the age of 6, I've played soccer," she says. "I also played competitively growing up and in college." Now a mom of three, Hinojos’s life still revolves around athletics—she has two sons who play football and a daughter who's taken after her. “So, I’m a soccer mom,” she says, chuckling.
This latest project is another way for her to weave deeply personal themes into her art, which is something that drew the NFL to Hinojos in the first place. "She infuses meaning from her Native American and Mexican heritage into the imagery and symbolism she uses in her work,” Solis says. It's a point of pride for Hinojos, who has multicultural roots in Mexico, as well as tribes including Pascua Yaqui, Chiricahua Apache, White Mountain Apache, and Pima (Akimel O'Odham).
How Hinojos came up with her moniker
Like most street artists, Hinojos has a nickname, La morena, which means "dark skinned" in Spanish. “Growing up, I was very dark, so I got called morena and morenita in not-so-kind ways,” says Hinojos. “As I got into mural work, I was looking for a street artist name—and with spending so much time outside, I got really dark again,” she adds. “One day, my friend and I were brainstorming artist names for me. She looked at me and I looked at her, and we both said ‘Morena!’”
Hinojos says she uses her art to reconnect with her culture. “There was a cultural assimilation that happened to the generation before mine—our moms, our dads, our grandparents,” she says. “Their culture was oppressed, and now my generation is craving that cultural identity.” Reclaiming her childhood nickname on new terms was part of this process. “I proudly identify with [morena] because beautiful is brown and brown is beautiful," she says.
How she's integrating her heritage into her artwork for the NFL
To Hinojos, this NFL partnership feels like another form of reclamation. “It’s something that Native people, Chicano people, and people of color can finally see themselves in and connect to," she says.
BIPOC folks feeling representing in her work is integral to her purpose, Hinojos says, because her community is her power source. “I did not do any of this alone, not physically and not spiritually,”she tells me. “Everything I do, I walk with my ancestors, community, and my family. The beautiful part about being Chicana and Native is that we do things in family. That’s exactly what I did for this project.”
She's incorporated multiple symbols that represent the culture and history of Arizona into her artwork for Super Bowl LVII. This includes a reflection of the White Tank Mountains on the Lombardi Trophy and depictions of a Fancy Shawl dancer and an Azteca dancer, which pay homage to the Indigenous tribes in Arizona, according to the NFL.
“On top of her incredible talent, the opportunity for us to break barriers and finally award this critical piece to the first Indigenous female is a very important milestone,” Solis says. “Working with her has been an incredible journey, and we are all so excited [about] the creativity that she is bringing to Super Bowl LVII.”
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