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Press, Betty Wilde-Biasiny

Resilience and Vibrancy Rule

Essay by Betty Wilde-Biasiny, M.F.A.Professor, SUNY Empire State CollegeMetropolitan Region, New York City

          The Uptown Print Portfolio by Dominican York Proyecto GRAFICA (DYPG) is a creative artists’ project comprising eight two-color prints--either screen print, relief, or both--made by this collective of Dominican-American printmakers. The project description, colophon, and credits  accompany  the portfolio, along with this curatorial statement on the creative aspects of the prints and their origins. Held from May 30 to June 27, 2015 in upper Manhattan, the project incorporated numerous community-based activities as well as a print exhibition. In artist-run workshops, the participants made prints alongside the artists who created this provocative body of work.
          The prints, variably sized on Rives BFK archival paper within an 11” x 15” envelope, vary from abstract to figurative, allowing for a diverse platform of communications. Each individual artist, either symbolically or literally, helps to form a collective message that favors resilience over oppression and vibrancy over marginalization. The tension between the dual identities caused by ties to the homeland of the Dominican Republic, with largely transplanted individuals who make up this group, attests to struggles for individual recognition within recognizable unequal opportunity in an effort to convey the importance of collective and individual social action.
          Moses Ros Suárez, organizer of the event and the portfolio and a founding member of DYPG, states, “It is important that artists work in their community to further the cultural development of society and of themselves. The artists of DYPG have wanted to execute a project of this magnitude in Washington Heights, the heart of the Dominican community in the United States, from its inception.” While Moses Ros Suárez's Cinindios, 2015, linoleum, chine collé, alludes to the notion of chiefs and reluctant followers, Pepe Coronado's Entre los Tres, 2015, screen print, comments on “the anti-immigration mentality by Dominicans against our Haitian neighbors.” Coronado’s statement reflects upon the history of occupation in the Dominican Republic by the United States and how subsequent inter-relationships between the three entities have become the core of social
economic policies that may have influenced this sentiment. Miguel Luciano’s La Zafra, 2016, linoleum and screen print, symbolizes a contention between Haitians and their descendants living in the Dominican Republic.

      The urban theme appears in several prints. Luanda Lozano’s Red Handed, 2015, linoleum with chin collé, is a commentary on the pervasive, although waning, drug culture of the 1990s in Washington Heights. Kindred in spirit is Dyckman’s Train Stop, 2015, printed in the same medium, by Rene De Los Santos; depicting a non-existent subway stop--500th street—perhaps alluding to a non-existent, or more ideal, place. Similar in urban vibe is Rider Ureña's Noctura T 28, 2015, linoleum print formed as a butterfly-like image portraying the duality of identity often forced upon the Dominican people due to economic, political, and social injustice. Completing the theme of longing for the lush tropical homeland is Alex Guerrero’s
2015 linoleum and screen print, which offers a positive/negative impression of a palm tree, missing from the urban environs. 
      The Sword of San Miguel, 2015, by Reynaldo Garcia Pantaleon, is a two-color screen print based on the iconographic idea of one of the most beloved Catholic saints in the Dominican Republic, San Miguel Archangel, also called Belie Belcan. According to Garcia Pantaleón, this image appears in many homes and spaces of the Dominican community, both on the island and abroad, as a symbol of strength and protection against the negative events of everyday life. He recalls his own personal experience in viewing the fragment of the image, the sword itself, to help him through a childhood illness and to symbolize its powers of protection. Throughout the portfolio, strong messages of cultural identity, and the need to view
the future with hope, prevail. These artists rely upon subtle nuance, tone, and color endemic to the printmaking process to uncover the subjective state of both the Dominican-American as an individual and society as a whole.

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