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La Libertad-Elizam Escobar
2016, Acrylic on canvas, 30" x 24". Portrait of artist, poet, former Puerto Rican political prisoner Elizam Escobar. (That which we call freedom is not a state of being, it is a practice.)
Las cuatro esquinas- Betances
2016, (The Crossroads). Acrylic on Recycled palette wood, Approx 4' x 6'. Homenaje a Ramón Emeterio Betances, Galeria Betances, Mayaguez, Puerto Rico. This work considers Betances' role as liberator and abolitionist. The palette of red, white and black and the title are a reference to the Yoruba orisha Eshu, the opener of doors who governs over the crossroads. The crossroads speaks to the continued colonialism in Puerto Rico.
detail, Play at Your Own Risk
2014, Outlaw clothesline series. Mixed media on cotton bandana. 20" x 20" Tribute to my brother Joseph lost to cancer in 2010, featuring my poem "Forever big brother" and my self portrait with my brother. (I imagine you complete and present/ My forever big brother/ I cement in my head/ My superhero vision of you/ That I crafted as a little girl/ You stand eternal, invincible, strong in that vision/ As you once were/ As you are now As you will always be be)
Hear it Calling me
2014, Outlaw Clothesline Series, Mixed media on cotton bandana, 20" x 20". This tribute to my brother marks the moment of his passing, recalling how I played him the song "Babe I'm gonna leave you" by Led Zeppelin. With it I realized that he was informing me of his departure. He passed within a half hour. (Baby I'm gonna leave you...I ain't jokin' woman I've got to ramble...I can hear it calling me the way it used to do. I can hear it calling me back home.)
2014, Outlaw Clothesline series. Ink on cotton bandana, 20" x 20". Lyrics by Joe Sample & Will Jennings for the song of the same title. This bandana marks my brother's coming of age in the streets of Park Slope, Coney Island and East New York Brooklyn. (Street Life/ You can run away from time/ Street Life/ for a nickel for a dime/ Street Life/ But you better not get old/ Street Life/ Or you're gonna feel the cold
2013, Ink on paper, 10" x 8" Portrait of Frida Kahlo, featuring an excerpt from her journal. In it she discusses how the most ridiculous thing among us is tragedy. She offers that nothing is more valuable than laughter. It is strength to laugh, lose oneself, be light
Boriken Ayé, 2012
2012, Mixed media on paper, 33" x 22". Created as the poster image for the Puerto Rican Studies Association 20th anniversary conference. The image borrows the seashell from the indigenous fotuto and the Yoruba Eshu Aye to celebrate the Puerto Rican Diaspora. Featuring quotes by Julia de Burgos, Martin Espada and Aurora Levin Morales.
2010, Outlaw series, Mixed media on paper, 18" x 12". Portrait of my brother as a young boy in Puerto Rico alongside a biblical verse found in a prayer book of his. It describes the selfless life he led. (The Lord has anointed and qualified me to preach the Gospel of good tidings to the meek, the poor and afflicted. He has sent me to bind up and heal the broken hearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives and the opening of the prison and of the eyes to those who are bound. Rom 10:15.
2010, Mixed media on paper 18" x 12". My brother took this photo of his hand with my son's hand when Gabriel was just 6 months old. My brother passed 6 months later, just after Gabriel's 1st birthday. I wrote the lyrics of Ray Barreto's "Indestructible" which sings that when beloved blood is lost, in new blood lies indestructible strength.
2010, Outlaw series, Mixed media on watercolor paper, 18" x 12". Portrait of my brother dressed as an outlaw, alongside an excerpt from my poem "Brooklyn Bred Borica:" Boricua outlaw brothers in leather and chains taken off their bodies and minds/ Turned into weapons of self defense/ Rockin' punk patches patria banderas and bandanas on their foreheads and back pockets.
2010, Calligraphy detail
Valiente Norma Torres Sanes
2009, Bieké: Tierra de Valientes series, mixed media on camouflage, 30" x 20". Portrait of the Vieques activist who is also a poet, artist and breast cancer survivor. The calligraphy features an excerpt from her interviewing which she discusses the United States' co-opting of the term "America" as if they were all encompassing of it. She discusses the many Americans (north, central and south) that fall under the "America" cash and clarifies how the US alone does not own rights to this term.
2006, Acrylic on burlap, 60" x 40" This portrait of the late poet features the words of his poem Nuyorican. Written in Spanish it speaks to a history of forced migration from Puerto Rico and a rejection that occurs when Boricuas of the Diaspora return to Puerto Rico, criticized for how they speak, act, dress, being denied their puertorriqueñidad.
Jíbara Julia de Burgos
2006, Acrylic on burlap, 84" x 39". Portrait of the legendary Puerto Rican poet Julia de Burgos (2014-1953). This image depicts her as the liberator she described in her poetry. Featured in calligraphy is an excerpt from her poem Pentacromia: "Seria un obrero picando la caña/ sudando el jornal/ A brazos arriba/ los puños en alto/ quitandole al mundo mi parte de pan. (I'd be a laborer cutting cane, sweating the wage, arms up, fists high, taking from the world my piece of bread.)
Querer ser libre- Dylcia Pagan
2006, Acrylic, seashells and peacock feathers on canvas. 24" x 36". Portrait of former Puerto Rican political prisoner Dylcia Pagan as I remembered her during an afternoon we spent at the sea, behind her home in Loiza, Puerto Rico. The quote is of Ramon Emeterio Betances, (The desire to be free is to begin being free)
I first learned calligraphy at an after-school program in the 8th grade in East New York, Brooklyn. Later as an art student, I later began incorporating calligraphy in my creative practice, highlighting quotes of my featured subjects, song lyrics, poems and testimonials. Calligraphy has been prevalent in Puerto Rican art, used by print makers in the popular silkscreen and graphic traditions. The late Lorenzo Homar and his student, now Puerto Rican master artist, Antonio Martorell are the artists of my culture that I most look up to for their ability to fuse calligraphy with various media/ techniques as visual artists. With calligraphy I am able to build more complex visuals and contextual narratives, and honor the legacy of my own calligraphy teacher and generations of Puerto Rican artists who have documented the triumphs and struggles of our homeland.