featured gallery for June 2018

Buscando Hogar

Hace calor. Puerto Rico tropicaloso. I sit on the balcony of my mom’s apartment as my stepdad cuts my hair. He knows I like it short. Queer buzz. Bien cortito. As I sit and feel the vibrations of the machine I think about the Visual AIDS artists’ work that echoes in me.

The timing of this web gallery coincides with a trip home. For me, home remains where mom is, which also coincides with my patria, the homeland. Since 1994 the sharing of home and patria has been the same space, but as a child of the diaspora I struggle to reconcile the multiplicity of geographies.

As my hair falls, I mutate the macro perspective. I think of details.

The rocking chair of Kia Labeija’s mom on the balcony, which is a space that bridges the intimate with the public (ie my buzz cut overlooks a parking lot).

Juan Suazo’s mask “Carnaval” is like a distant cousin to my vejigante de coco, a gift to me by EDH, who lives with HIV in Loiza.

Nora Wallower’s open sky is hope, its a little bit of the clarity of Caribbean blue I seek in Bronx skies.

Carlos Gutierrez-Solana’s self portrait reminds me of my brother, Ramoncito, riding his tricycle with all the ferocious energy and happiness a three year old can muster.

And all the flora and fauna - from Edwin Lacend’s platanos to Javier Rocabado’s canario - are reminiscent of Abuela Lola, our 104 year old matriarch who passed away in August 2013. A jibara from Guadiana, Naranjito, she planted flowers of all sorts in the small patches surrounding whichever apartment abuelo and her lived in during our years of migration. She transformed patches of poor California dirt into verde esperanza.

And so, the details of the art that grabbed my heart are the personal touches that make-up patria. Questions I am left with: How do we transform living spaces into homes? Will I ever feel home can be on the mainland (the USA)? As queer folks who have left and continue to migrate, what do we collect and bring into our newer homes?

I think its okay that I have my nuebayol slice of sanctuary. But I don’t sleep as deeply or as easily as when I cross into my mom’s portal. Is that true for non-migrants as well?What do we all seek in homes and homelands?

Does what echoes in me, echo in you?