Exhibition, Ida y Vuelta at Hunter College East Harlem Gallery

Mónica Félix, from the series "Oh You Don’t Look Puerto Rican," 2017

The Center for Puerto Rican Studies (CENTRO) in partnership with Hunter College East Harlem Gallery, has announced the exhibition, Ida y Vuelta: Experiencias de la migración en el arte puertorriqueño contemporáneo (Arrivals and Departures: Migration Experiences in Contemporary Puerto Rican Art), through September 30th. The exhibition, a major show featuring 19 artists whose works respond to the processes, causes, and consequences of traveling and living away from their place of origin, will mark the first time in ten years that CENTRO will be partnering with the Hunter East Harlem Gallery, neighbor to the CENTRO Library & Archives, as part of their 50th Anniversary celebrations.

Featured artists include: Abdiel Segarra Ríos, Adál Maldonado, Anabel Vázquez Rodríguez, Anaida Hernández, Antonio Martorell, Brenda Cruz, Carlos Ruiz Valarino, Edra Soto, John Betancourt, José Ortiz Pagán, Máximo Colón, Marta Mabel Pérez, Mónica Félix, Nayda Collazo Llorens, Norma Vila Rivero, Osvaldo Budet Meléndez, Pedro Vélez, Quintín Rivera Toro and Víctor Vázquez. Curated by Laura Bravo, PhD., with Assistant Curator Donald Escudero.

Pedro Vélez, "Consecuencias de la fuga de cerebros," 2014


The history of Puerto Rico has been marked by recurrent migrations, but none compare to the dramatic and unprecedented volume of people that have fled the archipelago in recent years. As a reflection of their own experiences or as a chronicle of a reality they have witnessed, eighteen artists present here their views of the phenomenon of migration, posing various, mostly autobiographical, concerns and perspectives. The risks of embarking on a complex adventure, the sensation of having bifocal lives—split between their place of residence and the memories that return to their minds—the feelings of estrangement, and the identity conflicts that result from life in a foreign society are a few of their focal points. Protracted economic and political crises are the targets of sharp criticism, as they are considered responsible for the alarming figures of the current migration. Recurrent travel and circular migration—represented by iconographic elements such as suitcases, airplanes, or maps—appear here as common practice for thousands of people of Puerto Rican origin.

Máximo Rafael Colón, "Untitled," 1972

Ida y Vuelta, the product of an extensive research project, was exhibited at the Museum of History, Anthropology and Art of the University of Puerto Rico, Río Piedras Campus between 2017 and 2018. Hurricane Maria tragically upended the lives and disrupted the well-being of the millions of people living in Puerto Rico, causing an unanticipated interruption in the development of the exhibition. Their suffering and despair were felt by their families and friends throughout the diaspora. This event revealed and exacerbated insidious problems within the Puerto Rican government and catalyzed a multisectorial disaster and traumatic exodus. The exhibition’s evolving cultural context allows us to revisit these works of art anew—outside the geographical borders of Puerto Rico, and with a fresh perspective framed by recent history.

— Laura Bravo, Ph.D, Curator