La Brega, exhibition by Johnny Irizarry’s at National Liberty Museum

Art by Johnny Irizarry

La Brega explores the diasporic experience through the lens of a Puerto Rican. Loosely translated as “the struggle,” la brega is an optimistic turn of phrase grounded in realism, acknowledging everyday hardships and an intent to persevere through the daily grind of challenges beyond one’s control with ever-forward movement. In his work, artist Johnny Irizarry reveals the essence of la brega, speaking to a range of issues from colonization and its legacies to the disproportionate impact of climate change, gun violence, and traditions in religion and spirituality. His mixed media works incorporate purposeful storytelling imagery with cultural-social-political intent and tackle the psychic transformation that takes place when humans face oppression. La Brega explores freedom and its many historical and cultural challenges impacting our society and Puerto Ricans today, inviting us all to re-imagine our world anew through equity and justice.

“La Chancleta,” Johnny Irizarry

 "Ni De Aquí, Ni de Allá", Johnny Irizarry 

About the Artist

Johnny Irizarry’s work spans from teaching at universities to being director of La Casa Latina at the University of Pennsylvania and community centers. In the 1990s, he served as Executive Director of Taller Puertorriqueño. As a cultural worker, his “La Brega” has been centered on Puerto Rican and Latinx civil rights struggles and criminal justice.

The exhibit, which runs through Aug. 15., More information: