Cristina Sosa Noriega is excited about working on her newly completed large public art project dedicated to the Girls Scouts of Southwest Texas’s 100th Anniversary. She arrives at 7 am every day at the Main Plaza just as the sun rises over downtown San Antonio. Although most downtown murals have been painted several stories above the ground, her Girl Scout memorial is street-level, which adds complexities and challenges.
Noriega undertakes most of her painting while pedestrians walk by her wall, many making positive comments about the mural and some taking photos. The cars driving by, a few blaring loud music, do not bother Noriega, as she is laser-focused on the completion of her painting as if the art wall were her studio.
Noriega’s passion for community art revolves around projects that have an identifiable connection to the community and people. Her Girl Scouts memorial mural, funded by Girl Scouts of Southwest Texas and Centro San Antonio, includes portraits of Scouts from the past, including Mayor Lila Cockrell and Senator Leticia Van de Putte, as well as more recent subjects including Uvalde student Amerie Jo Garza. Garza was the young Uvalde student who called 911 when the Robb Elementary School killer came into her classroom. She completed the call but was struck down by a deadly bullet from the murderer’s high-powered rifle. The young girl received a posthumous bronze cross medal of honor from her Girl Scout Uvalde post for her heroism.
Two years ago, Noriega painted Amerie Jo Garza as part of Uvalde’s mural project dedicated to the 21 victims of the horrific mass shooting of May 24, 2022 at Robb Elementary School. The mural dedicated to Amerie Jo Garza had special meaning to Noriega because the young victim was the same age as her daughter Paloma and was also a budding artist. Noriega has great empathy for the young Garza family. Paloma, her eleven-year-old daughter, loves art and recently spent part of a Sunday helping her mom with the Scout mural painting the phrase “Si Se Puede” [Yes You Can] in the lower center of the mural.
Noriega attended Alamo Heights High School and earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from Yale University. She had a passion for art at a young age, but at Yale, she studied psychology. A negative experience with a Basic Art class at the university nearly discouraged her from thinking about art in her life.
Cristina Sosa Noreiga grew up in an artistic family. Her mother taught art and her father Lionel Sosa developed a second career as an artist after selling his highly successful advertising firm. Upon graduation from Yale in 2001, Noriega returned to San Antonio and worked in the public relations firm Bromley Communications. At Bromley, she met her future husband Victor Noriega. During these years, Noriega continued to be engaged part-time in creating art.
A transformational moment in Sosa Noriega’s decision to launch an art career–at least part-time–came in 2005-06 with her decision to paint 52 contemporary portraits of the Mexican Loteria. She recalled spending a year re-creating the Mexican Loteria, “updating it to reflect the symbols and culture I knew–the Tex-Mex version.”
Noriega’s “My Loteria” game and a corresponding line of kitchenware appeared in H.E.B. grocery stores across the state and in Northern Mexico. One of the Loteria portraits, “El Catrin,” [the fancy-dressed gentlemen] features her father Lionel Sosa. Another painting, “El Musico” [the musician] celebrates Tejano music.
After an exhibit of her art at Artwalk in West Texas, the Noriega family decided to move to Alpine, one of West Texas’s artsy communities. In Alpine, she and her husband Victor ran a small business selling Mexican imports and raspas.

The Noriega family stayed four years in Alpine returning to San Antonio to be closer to family as they prepared for their second child Paloma born in 2012. Her home studio is filled with the art of other well-known Chicano artists such as Luis Jimenez, Cesar Martinez, and Jacinto Guevara. Over the next eight years, Noriega worked with the DoSeum and San Antonio Independent School District.
A New York Times Style Magazine article that appeared this week, April 21, 2024, featuring Mexican artist Roberto Gil de Montes explained the importance of memory in creating art. Gil de Montes offered: “I am very intrigued by how memory works and how the memory of something can trigger a new idea.” Noriega explained that she used photographs in the Scouts’ mural because photos trigger important memories. Her memory of seeing the Mexican Loteria during visits to Mexico and in the homes of family and friends in San Antonio stimulated an interest in creating 52 contemporary portraits representing a new interpretation of the Loteria set.
I thought another New York Times Style Magazine article on young artists’ career development also applied to many artists like Noriega. Comedian, actor, and writer Murray Hill admitted that he procrastinates quite a bit when he sits at his desk and often asks himself: “Is this part of the creative process for me, or am I making my life harder?” He concluded that procrastination was an important part of the creative process as an artist mulls over various ideas and images.
Perhaps Noriega postponed life as an artist full-time when she was 21 because she needed to think more about what an art career meant. She was simply giving herself additional time to sort out the creative process in her mind and determine what was important to her. Many
great artists delay starting or finishing their work because other projects consume them or life events delay a career.
Cristina Sosa Noriega’s art career is blossoming. Her perseverance and work ethic are admirable. She continues to get commissions to paint large murals that enrich San Antonio’s cultural heritage and history. She recently completed a large mural at the new University of Texas San Antonio Data Science building and has other work around town. Noriega is community-minded and works to nurture young artists and inspire pride in Latino culture.