West Philadelphia-based artist Raúl José Romero’s exhibition Onomonopoetics of a Latino Landscape sparks a quest exploring how people in Miami connect back to their homeland, and in the case of the artist, Puerto Rico. In the installation, sound sculptures installed on Locust Projects’ exterior will create an acoustic ecology by introducing sound recordings of el Coquí alongside the everyday urban soundscape. A small iconic frog native to Puerto Rico, el Coquí is an onomatopoeia named by the Tainos natives to Puerto Rico.
As a first-generation Puerto Rican immigrant growing up in Florida, the question of connecting to his homeland has lingered in forming Romero’s identity. Memories of visiting Puerto Rico include the sounds of el Coquí and images of the Arecibo Observatory, the largo telescope in the world. In this project, Locust Projects will be transformed into a site to transmit calls of el Coquí into the community, exploring how we connect to our homeland and each other. The installation provides a platform for visitors to not only learn about each other, but also connect stories from home in a time where many people are looking to establish new homes. The use of sound encourages listening and promotes an exchange of memories, ideas, and compassion.
ABOUT THE ARTIST
Raúl José Romero lives in West Philadelphia. He graduated from Yale University School of Art with an MFA in Sculpture, 2018. He currently works at the University of the Arts with the position of Film Coordinator and Lecturer.
Raúl has exhibited at the Land Gallery Collective, Philadelphia, PA, Yale School of Art, New Haven, CT, The Kitchen in New York City, NY. The Denver Contemporary Art Museum in Denver, CO, Transformer Gallery in Washington D.C., Pentimenti Gallery in Philadelphia, PA, Delaware Center for Contemporary Art in Wilmington, DE, The Contemporary Art Museum in Tampa, Florida, The Tampa Museum of Art in Tampa, FL and The Museum of Science and Industry in Tampa, Fl. He was also awarded The William and Nancy Oliver Gallery Prize by Anne Pasternak for the 32nd Annual Juried Art Exhibition at The Contemporary Art Museum in Tampa, FL.
Rest Ashore is a new multi-channel video project by Miami-based LatinX multi-disciplinary artist Juana Valdes that reexamines the Cuban and Haitian migration experience and how it relates to the current global refugee crisis, particularly Syria. The installation explores the similarities in how the past and the current refugee crisis are documented and disseminated in mass media while creating a new visual vernacular honoring those who died at sea in their travels. Rest Ashore is Valdes's first significant expansion into video and a dramatic shift in her artistic process.
While this project differs significantly from Valdes's past work, it continues her thematic explorations of the sea, ocean, rivers, and "bodies of water," which have always played a significant role in her practice and shifted the way in which she perceives and reimagines the Caribbean. While using the Cuban-America rafters "Balseros" experience as a starting point, Rest Ashore's goal is to address the current refugee crisis worldwide, particularly those refugees who died at sea in their journeys. The project pushes past the conventional beliefs of what it means to be a refugee and questions how these experiences are chronicled in the media and recorded in our memories.
ABOUT THE ARTIST
Juana Valdes uses printmaking, photography, sculpture, ceramics, and site-specific installations, to explore issues of race, transnationalism, gender, labor, and class. Functioning as an archive, Valdes’s work analyzes and decodes experiences of migration as a person of Afro Caribbean heritage.
Recent solo exhibitions include: Terrestrial Bodies, Cuban Legacy Gallery, Miami Dade College Special Collections, Freedom Tower (2019-2020); An Inherent View of the World, Mindy Solomon Gallery, Miami (2017); From Island to Ocean: Caribbean and Pacific Dialogues, Center for Cultural Analysis, Rutgers University, NJ (2015), and Remnants-What Remains, Thomas Hunter Project Space, Hunter College, CUNY (2014).
Her exhibition An Inherent View of the World was acquired in full by the Pérez Art Museum, Miami and will be featured in the upcoming exhibition, Polyphonic: Celebrating PAMM’s Fund for African American Art from February 7 – August 9, 2020.
Recent group exhibitions include: Queer + Peculiar Craft, showcasing recent work by an international group of artists, designers and makers working with ceramics and textiles, The Clemente Abrazo Interno Gallery, NYC (2019-2020); GROUNDED, Spinello Projects, Miami (2019); RAW: Craft, Commodity, and Capitalism, Craft Contemporary, LA (2019); Building a Feminist Archive: Cuban Women Photographers in the US, Pompano Beach Cultural Art Center, FL (2019); Round 49: Penumbras: Sacred Geometries at Project Row Houses, Houston (2019); Relational Undercurrents: Contemporary Art of the Caribbean Archipelago, Museum of Latin American Art, presented as part of Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA, Long Beach, CA (2017) traveled to: Wallach Gallery at the Lenfest Center for the Arts, Columbia University and Sugar Hill Children’s Museum of Art & Storytelling, NYC; and the Delaware Art Museum (2018).
Her work has also been included in group exhibitions in such museums and university galleries such as: Site Santa Fe, Perez Art Museum, El Museo del Barrio, NYC; P.S. 1 MOMA, NYC; MOCA, North Miami; Galerie Verein Berliner Künstler, Berlin; the Mason Gross Galleries at Rutgers University, NJ; Newark Museum, NJ; Galerie Binnen, Amsterdam; and FreeSpace, Sydney.
Grants, Awards and Fellowships include: Joan Mitchell Foundation Grant (2018), The Ellies Creator Award (2018); The Netherland-American Foundation Cultural Grant, (2011); New York Foundation for the Arts, Sculpture/Craft (2011); the National Association of Latinos Arts and Culture Visual Artists Grant (2009); and the Pollock-Krasner Foundation Grant (1998).
Born in Pinar del Rio, Cuba, Valdes came to the United States in 1971. She received her BFA in Sculpture from the Parsons School of Design (1991), her MFA in Fine Arts from the School of Visual Arts (1993) and attended the Skowhegan School of Painting & Sculpture (1995). She is currently an Associate Professor in the Art Department at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, and is represented in Miami by Spinello Projects.
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