2023 Cultures & Communites Festival Featured Artists


Samantha Smyser De- Leon 

Artist, Designer, Organizer 

Samantha Smyser- De Leon is a Puerto Rican visual artist and designer from Humboldt Park, Chicago. She holds a BA in Fine Art from Columbia College Chicago, with a minor in Arts Business. Most recently working as a Color Designer for Nike on the Women’s Global Footwear team – Samantha now runs her own Art & Design studio executing creative projects from custom sculptural installations to graphic design and art direction for brands and activations. 

In tandem with her design work, Samantha co-hosts Sistematic Podcast with her twin sister, she is a professional stunt woman (member of SAG- AFTRA), and a community organizer whose work revolves around issues including reproductive rights and affordable housing. 


Jose "Roots" Raices 

Artist, Illustrator, Muralist 

Jose "Roots" Raices is a self-taught, visual artist from Utuado, PuertoRico. He works independently, creating graphic, digital artworks as well as paintings, murals, and mixed media sculptures. Raices often collaborates with music artists and brands that range from local to global. In addition to his independent work he also works as a creative consultant to Sombrero Media - a creative advertising agency. 

In July of 2023 Raices opened his debut solo-exhibition “PURSUIT” at Pública Espacio Cultural, a gallery in San Juan, Puerto Rico. His art is easily recognizable through his depiction of surreal worlds created by flat forms with strong outlines and saturated hues. He is inspired by cartoons, pop culture, and human relationships. Raices often critiques systemic issues in his works, analyzing what it means to exist under capitalistic and colonial systems.