Reclamation (and Place, Puerto Rico)

Wood, burlap, steel, asphalt, structural foam, coffee clay (used coffee grounds, flour, salt).

Photograpy by Sebastian Bach.
no existe un mundo poshuracan:
Puerto Rican Art in the Wake of Hurricane Maria

Whitney Museum of American Art, NY

Organized by Marcela Guerrero.

Made specifically for the exhibition, "no existe un mundo poshuracán," this work takes the tools of my process for reclaiming used coffee grounds for an air dry clay—a process that includes drying, mixing, and forming—and reimagines them into a material landscape.

Historically, coffee is one of the Puerto Rican archipelago’s most significant crops, and was once cultivated by my grandparents. (My paternal grandparents, Joaquín and Toñita had a coffee farm near Ciales from the '50s - '70s; my paternal grandfather, Clery, was a horticulture professor in Mayagüez.)

The work suggests that reclaiming Puerto Rico’s agricultural independence in the name of past generations as well as those to come is a basic demand at the center of any rebuilding project for Puerto Rico. This autonomy is necessary to create food security, ecological sustainability, and climate resilience in Puerto Rico.

Reclamation—reclamación in Spanish—takes on layers of meaning that it lacks in English, to include a sense of demand or complaint. The work links this demand to both local and diasporic contexts, referencing elements of both Puerto Rican and New York infrastructure through its resemblances to the stilts of houses in the impoverished community of El Fanguito in San Juan, to mangrove roots, to the skyline, and to the hard but ever-shifting groundscape of New York City, where I was born.

— 2022