The Rains, 1984
Oil pastel, acrylic paint and black and white photographs on canvas
"I had been to an exhibit in a community center in the Lower East Side in New York in 1982 and saw amazing paintings by Juan Sanchez, a Nuyorican (Puerto Ricans and their descendants in the diaspora) artist, which brought the life and struggles of the streets of New York, of minority communities, onto a canvas and then let us see the beauty of ourselves where none had been noticed before. These works gave us courage. It was revolutionary work for me. In the New York official art scene at the time, non-white artists (and no, I do not think we are 'post-racial') were not included in galleries and museums and as an art student, I did not see work in exhibition spaces which reflected the reality I came from and found myself in in New York. The painting by Sanchez, Mixed Statements, with its hard politics, poetics and beauty opened up a whole new possibility of life and art. By chance, I later met Juan and he became mentor and friend. In The Rains, I pay homage to Juan, with the mixed use of photographs and canvas and text to bring the reality of my family into space of public acknowledgement of their quotidian struggles for survival."