Inspired by fireflies in post-hurricane darkness and three bioluminescent bays in the archipelago of Puerto Rico, CucubaNación takes lessons from nature where we learn to transcend colonialism, manifest and radiate our own light, and envision and embody a new nation of resilient, liberated souls.
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CucubaNación is a project born out of my interest in bioluminescence, as observed in the waters of Puerto Rico’s bioluminescent bays, and my rediscovery of fireflies in the five months of darkness that I lived post-Hurricanes. Meditating on the aftermath of hurricanes, the austerity measures of an odious debt, disaster capitalism and five centuries and counting of colonialism, we are called to go within, manifest and radiate light like fireflies. The title, CucubaNación, is a play on the words “nation”, cucuyo and cucubano, indigenous names for firefly species native to Puerto Rico. The palettes used are informed by the type of bioluminescence that inspires them. The blue glow is inspired by the dinoflagellates that light up the waters of three Puerto Rico bays. I mostly use this concept to paint spirits that have already transitioned. Cucubanos are large brown click beetles with bioluminescent green “headlights” and “taillights” that they alternate to either attract mates or repel predators. More common lightning bugs/ cucuyos/ luciernagas have red heads, black bodies with a yellow outline and glow green, poetically the same colors used on the flags of African liberation. I use this palette to portray those of us still living/ battling through colonialism in our homeland. CucubaNación takes lessons from nature to transcend injustice, racism, conquest, colonialism, climate disaster and to envision and embody a new nation of resilient, liberated souls.