Locust Projects is proud to present Philadelphia-based artist Raúl Romero’s new project Onomonopoetics of a Puerto Rican Landscape, an interactive mobile art project that explores how sound can evoke memory and a sense of place for Miami’s immigrant communities. The evolving multi-city project will be based at Locust Projects starting September 12 with initial performances in the public sphere taking place through October 24, 2020. Admission is free.
Onomonopoetics of a Puerto Rican Landscape explores how people in Miami connect back to their homeland, in the case of the artist, Puerto Rico. Romero creates an acoustic ecology using his field recordings of the coquí, a small iconic frog native to Puerto Rico. The word “coquí” is an onomatopoeia named by the Tainos indigenous peoples of Puerto Rico. The distinct sound will be transmitted alongside the everyday urban sounds onsite at Locust Projects and throughout Miami, creating an augmented soundscape.
As a second-generation Puerto Rican immigrant growing up in Florida, connecting to his homeland through visiting the island has helped form Romero’s identity. He connects his experience of the land, the coquí, and Puerto Rico’s Arecibo observatory through sculpture, sound, and movement, reaching the public throughout different neighborhoods.
In this project, a cargo tricycle is converted into a mobile sound transmission and data gathering station projecting calls of the coquí frog. Riding the trike through Miami neighborhoods, Romero and performers will broadcast the sounds of the frog native to the artist’s homeland as well as capture Miamians’ experiences and stories of the coquí and their own native regions’ iconic sounds. The public is encouraged to record their audible homeland memories, either via a direct voicemail at 305.699.4233 or by sending their recording to Miami@coquicalls.com. These memories become an active part of the project, uploaded to www.CoquiCalls.com where they live on as an online archive available for anyone to hear and share.
Motion-activated sounds of the coquí will also be audible along Locust Project’s exterior along North Miami Avenue where the trike will be parked when not in the field gathering data.
Onomonopoetics of a Puerto Rican Landscape explores how people connect with the lands where they hold their roots, and initiates conversation about what travels culturally and how reminders of nature can resonate, evoking memory and imagination.
Onomonopoetics of a Puerto Rican Landscape has been awarded $5,000 from the Velocity Fund Grant, an Andy Warhol Foundation regional regranting program grant for its iteration in Philadelphia and a NALAC Fund for the Arts (NFA) grant.
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 teaching sound art. Raúl has exhibited at The Kitchen in New York City, NY. The Denver Contemporary Art Museum, Transformer Gallery in Washington D.C., Pentimenti Gallery in Philadelphia, PA, The Tampa Museum of Art, he was 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 large scale multi-channel video installation by LatinX multi-disciplinary artist Juana Valdes. Rest Ashore reexamines the Cuban migration experience over the past sixty years and how it relates to the current global refugee crisis. The installation explores similarities in how the refugee crisis has been documented and disseminated in mass media throughout the years, both past and present, while creating a new visual vernacular honoring those who died at sea in their travels. Rest Ashore marks 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.
Using the Cuban-American rafters “Balseros” experience as a starting point and reflecting upon past and current migration by sea, Rest Ashore aims to address the current refugee crisis worldwide, remembering and recognizing 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.
The exhibition is made possible, in part, with support from Funding Arts Network, Oolite Arts' 2018 Ellies Creator Award, and University of Massachusetts Amherst (UMASS) 2019 Research Healey Endowment Grant.
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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