Not long ago, I found myself listening to a priest being interviewed on television; the program was about important monuments in the Caribbean. One of the places featured was The Cathedral of The Immaculate Conception in La Vega, Dominican Republic. The Cathedral was built in that location due to the discovery of gold in that area; interesting enough, it is believed to be the site for the first rites of baptism in the New World. The crossing of the Atlantic Ocean, the unplanned discovery of the American continent, the expectation of riches, the gold, and the presence of religion started to compose scenarios in my mind.
Based on these ideas, I am developed a collection of “Objects of Freedom”(2010-16) to place within my floating paradise. I have created a soft sculpture by stacking inner tubes “dipped in gold” (actually spray painted), resembling a floating altar and evoking universal migration stories. The inner tubes are tied together by electrical ties, sometimes very tightly, alluding to the pain and suffering of immigrants. The piece is pregnant with “Milagros” or prayers in different languages, alluding to the diversity of origins of those who are seeking out the journey toward paradise. The making of these pieces has taken me to my series, “Theories on Freedom,” which is based on my thoughts on the contemporary experience and understanding of freedom. I took my inspiration from the media and the ocean. We are bombarded every day by news with specific political-philosophical agendas to a point that there is nothing to believe; even inspiring stories become suspicious by the way they are marketed… and then I let myself be enchanted, once again, by the sea. This blue liquid road and deep obstacle provokes my imagination. The blue sea represents the way out and the frontier. It maps stories about freedom…and slavery. The color and the wonders hidden below the ocean’s surface are the sources of my stories. I wonder about what the ocean brings and what it takes, in the back and forth of the waves reaching the shore. I wonder about the sinking ships of different empires, about the lives lost at sea, about the reason for the journey, all those treasures! The finding of ocean routes that defined the world we live in, that gave life to the empire of our times. That is the past that informs our present. For example in the piece titled “In my Floating World, Landscape of Paradise”, a soft sculpture, I collected inner tubes in different sizes and in a variety of shades of blue. I also bandaged the surface of some of the inner tubes with photographic images of the sea on which I have drawn a variety of symbols from my visual repertoire that refer to the memory of the sea. I composed a floating landscape with these inner tubes, creating a randomly organic form connected by electrical ties, sometimes tied very tightly, a suggestion of the struggles hidden within the deep blue beauty. Also each of the inner tubes carries an airport baggage tag that identifies the intended destination of the waves, which is New York, alluding to the contemporary promised land of the free.
In 2014 for my exhibition at Staten Island Unversity, curated by Art Hstorian Nanette Solomon, the center piece of Aguas Libres/Waters of Freedom was an interactive version of «Cathedral/Catedral». I created a soft large-scale sculpture by stacking together inner tubes “dipped” in gold paint, resembling a floating altar and evoking universal migration stories. The inner tubes are attached together by electrical ties, sometimes in distress alluding to pain and suffering. This piece is pregnant with airport suitcase ID tags in different colors, referencing to the diversity of origins on the journey in search of paradise, the land of opportunity. These airport tags are transformed by adding an all inclusive “cinnamon» color statue of liberty. This color is the result of mixing all colors, therefore the action of mixing its inclusive.
This universal altar is surrounded by water. I created a collection of silkscreen prints with images on water. This silkscreen installation is titled «The liquid highway»
The images of water alludes to the liquid road that migrants from all over the world had to cross to reach the new land of opportunity on their journey.
Each artwork in the exhibition is created as an individual piece, united by a threat though, building in the process, a narrative.This threat of narrative allows endless possibilities for my visual storytelling. In the end, the pieces maintain individuality. However, when presented together they work as a whole, creating a cohesive narrative.
The action took place at the opening reception. The public had available luggage tags.
These tags resemble the airport suitcase ID tags.
The public was invited to fill out the info on the ID tags. The questions listed are :(origin)where are you from, (destination)Which are your life’s expectation or dreams, then the public will “post” it on the piece. Cathedral will be at large come a floating universal “altar”.
I also developed a large-scale piece, commissioned by Deborah Cullen, director and Chief curator of The Wallach Art Gallery at Columbia University. It was part of a collaboration between Miller Theatre and Wallach Art Gallery @Columbia University.
Deborah Cullen explains: A recurring theme in her works is the very difficult experience of migration, and the feeling of being afloat, unmoored. After leaving an island and adapting to New York, her works reflect on emigration’s losses and gains.
Memories lurk in the shadows beneath sun-spotted waves that can turn treacherous in the Canal de la Mona. The aquí y allá, the back-and-forth of the New York-Santo Domingo flight, journeys over so much deep water that in an instant can become a grave. On her lushly painted surfaces, delicate screen-printed drawings and stamped images surrounded by handwriting create a dancing linear web, a cresting froth. These waves, sparkling, inviting, and also terrifying and crashing, are metonyms for the journeys of transplanted Dominican communities. They are now the largest and most rapidly growing Latino community in New York, nearly a million strong. This new work explores what Garcia calls “the liquid frontier,” the wild, dangerous unknown that stands between the Caribbean, and a new life.