Asserting Presence is an intimate exhibition of Nitza Tufiño’s (b. 1949) prints and paintings of family, friends, and places she has visited. In her work, she addresses the duality of seeing and being seen. To the artist, the former, seeing, is an act of acknowledgment, and the latter, being seen, is an act of asserting agency. With a vast body of work, Tufiño commemorates the people she knows and addresses historical inaccuracies. She also brings attention to the richness of the cosmology of the indigenous people of the Caribbean, the Taínos, whose influence persists. To Tufiño, her subjects are not strangers; what she does, she would say, is not about “me” but “we.”
Her childhood in Puerto Rico surrounded her with artists, dancers, musicians, filmmakers, intellectuals, and activists. Upon arriving in New York in 1969, Tufiño became involved in the founding of el Museo del Barrio, for which she created the original façade artwork. At this time, she also was a consultant on Puerto Rican and Caribbean art at the Brooklyn Museum and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, making her voice and the voice of Latino artists a part of the mainstream conversation. These activities led her to the installation of public works around New York City, which visually celebrate Puerto Rican, South American, and Caribbean cultural and artistic heritage. Tufiño was also a founding member of El Taller Boricua and is the master printmaker and director of the Rafael Tufiño Printmaking Workshop. As a “Friends of Puerto Rico” board member, she opened the Cayman Gallery in SoHO exhibition space, later known as the Museum of Contemporary Hispanic Art (MOCHA). (In 1990, MoCHA shut its doors, and its archives were donated to Hostos Community College of the City University of New York, in the South Bronx, New York). In her artwork, pedagogy, and civil activism, Tufiño has been a tireless champion of diverse representation and Latino/x agency.
The exhibition can be seen until next May 13, 2023 at the Taller Puertorriqueño located at 2600 N 5th Philadelphia, PA 19133. https://tallerpr.org/es/