Puerto Rican Graphics
From Amanda Guzman
We continue our speaker series with Lisa Ortega-Pol, the museum educator at the Museum of History, Anthropology and Art at the University of Puerto Rico, Rio Piedras.
Ortega-Pol, introduces students to DIVEDCO or the Division of Community Education under the Department of Public Education in Puerto Rico. DIVEDCO emerged as a state-sponsored island initiative, under the Muñoz Marín gubernatorial administration (1949-1965), that together through posters, books and films, gave opportunities to a generation of local artists to produce educational materials for rural and urban communities on the island. Today, these posters remain a hallmark example of Puerto Rican material culture and a major community artistic achievement preserved within the university's legacy of diverse object stewardship.
Critically reviewing various poster sequences across her presentation to highlight the wide range of themes represented (e.g. dance traditions including bomba, musical instruments like the cuatro, folk art objects like pottery and historically-contingent town festivals), Ortega-Pol materially demonstrates how posters were all at once an "art object" as well as a multi-layered document to be unpacked and interpreted as a form of popular education. This education was centered in a "visual language" that narrated Puerto Rican history, promoted community events (e.g. dance, theater) and evidenced inter-generational cultural practice through the development of an observable local aesthetic and an outstanding "economy of color."
She enters the class conversation as we begin to consider concepts of cultural community building and communication through art with a special focus on silk-screen print making and posters.
This week, we studied Taller Boricua (founded in 1969), an alternative space of Puerto Rican representation and a site of group art-making practice during a period of cultural renaissance and artist-activist action by a community of Nuyorican vanguards during the 1960's and 70's. Characterized by a diaspora celebration of the island's cultural heritage and calls for social change, Puerto Rican artists understood posters as platforms for political education with the motto of "art for all" given the form's easy reproducibility in low-cost production and their work as a taller (or collaborative workshop) to bring the posters to everyday, urban communities through public display.
- Amanda Guzman
To learn more about Ortega-Pol's work as an educator and artist:
Indexing work completed by Trinity undergraduates, Angela Clark and Olivia Micenko. To access the indexing chapters for this talk, click the icon at the top left of the video.