The visual arts lost its social relevancy. To a poor Puerto Rican in the 1990’s and 2000’s pre-gentrification Williamsburg, art was a world disconnected from mine. Although there was a vibrant art community fermenting within my neglected and decrepit neighborhood, I had no idea. Yet artists I read of in books, like Diego Rivera, whose murals championed people that resembled those around me and like me, the small folk and thinkers, excited my young mind. My intention through this course of study is to further my craft by bridging that disconnection through the application of visual arts for community engagement, empowerment and identity, especially for people of color.
My Puerto Rican heritage and Brooklyn upbringing lend me a lens of experience that influences much in my work. The multi-ethnicity of my culture provides to me a glimpse into what the future might look like when I peer into the faces of my family. The painter Francisco Oller’s depictions of Puerto Rico, its bounty, culture and traditions kept true to the multi-racial intermingling of our society. I grew up far from these, but when I was confronted with their truth I was able to connect with the works in recognition of my heritage and place. The changes in our society need new depictions, while conveying how we’ve continued those older traditions and evolved the culture, far from the land that birthed them. A solid visual foundation as the basis of a Puerto Rican identity provides the type of agency that can further the broader Latino struggle within a country that is both lost to us and lost without us.
Brooklyn, New York, USA
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