I am thrilled to say that my work has been chosen for inclusion in an upcoming group exhibition, Allow Me to Reintroduce Myself, at the Cigar Factory Gallery, curated by Krista Scenna and Carolina Peñafiel. The curators asked artists to create new pieces – works on paper – to interpret the theme, drawing connections between the art-makers of LIC with the history of the space. As you may know, I don’t normally do works on paper, but I decided to stretch myself and come up with something different. My offering is an installation, “Spirit of Tobacco,” which endeavors to tie in traditions of tobacco farmers, cigar makers, indigenous practices, and my own family history. See more info about the overall exhibit and the work I plan to include, below.
Allow Me to Reintroduce Myself
Independent curators, Krista Scenna, of Brooklyn’s Ground Floor Gallery and Carolina Peñafiel, of Local Project in Queens, are thrilled to welcome the historic Cigar Factory back to Long Island City with a new generation of makers: New York City’s talented emerging artists!
A group exhibition featuring dozens of local, contemporary artists, the exhibition pays homage to the Cigar Factory’s past as a thriving network of local makers by inviting New York City’s living artists – the current generation of makers – to show original, new works on or made with paper in all media.
Cigar manufacturing was a dominant industry in New York City from the late 19th century into the early 20th century. Established in 1896, The DeNobili Cigar Factory in Long Island City operated for decades, employing thousands of local makers to roll and pack the tabaco by hand until the factory moved operations outside of New York City in 1960. In 2017, the former industrial hub was repurposed to a modern, mixed-use creative space.
My offering, “Spirit of Tobacco”
In considering the theme of this show, Allow Me to Reintroduce Myself, at the Cigar Factory, I recalled my father telling me about growing up on a farm in the mountains of Puerto Rico, and how one of his very first tasks as a child was to hang tobacco leaves to dry. I thought about this art exhibit’s aim to draw connections between the factory’s cigar-makers of this past with LIC’s current community of art-makers, of which I am one. I thought about deepening that connection to the people who farm tobacco, and practices that go back to Native Americans, and particularly Taíno Indians of Puerto Rico. Taínos and other Indigenous traditions use tobacco in ritual practice, believing the plant has a powerful energy, a Tobacco Spirit; which I have endeavored to honor in creating these works for Allow Me to Reintroduce Myself at the Cigar Factory.
Spirit of Tobacco pieces are connected to my Boricua Sankofa series (2015-present).
“Spirit of Tobacco” will consist of a paper sculptural installation, along with acrylic paintings on paper, and will be supplemented by a short video piece and an audio interview with my father, recalling life as a child on a farm in Puerto Rico, circa 1940. The audio and video clips will be hosted on my blog (not in the gallery): Travesía Artística.
Allow me to Reintroduce Myself
An Art Exhibition for the New Cigar Factory LIC
9-20 35th Avenue, LIC/Queens, NYC 11106
Welcome Party: Thursday, June 21, 5 – 9pm
Refreshments will be served.
Thursday, July 12th: 3-7pm
Closing Party: Thursday, July 19th, 5 – 9pm
Join us in welcoming the new Cigar Factory back to New York City! 100+ Artists Based in New York City will be showing original artwork made with paper ranging from photography and collage to drawings, sculpture, and installation!
Almost all artworks are priced under $1,000 in keeping with the exhibition’s spirit of accessibility.
Meet and support your talented artist community at next Thursday’s welcome party from 5 – 9pm!
Photos courtesy of the Cigar Factory.