Monday, September 7, 2020

Boricua Sankofa - a series of paintings

As a painter I have been working on a few different ongoing bodies of work for a number of years - one of which I began in 2015 after a study-abroad program I attended in Puerto Rico, is called Boricua Sankofa. The word Boricua refers to Borinquen, the indigenous, Taino name for the island of Puerto Rico, and Sankofa is a Twi word, meaning "to go back and get" or in my case, to reflect and bring forward.

The series consists of mostly acrylic pieces, many of which are more conceptual in nature than my typical figurative work. I return to add to this series every so often. Recently, I was inspired to create a new piece, Flag Me Down, and I realized that even though I have been working on this series for quite a while, I have not presented the pieces all together. So, I've decided to show photos of all of the Boricua Sankofa paintings together here, with captions to explain the basic ideas behind each one. 

Looking at all of these images together as one body of work presents a narrative around what it means for me to contemplate my own experience as a native New Yorker with Puerto Rican roots, as well as the sociopolitical history of the island. 

"Flag Me Down" 2020, acrylic on canvas, 11x14"
Having been inspired through the years by the work of some incredible contemporary artists using flags to convey multilayered symbolism - I've drawn on these images and ideas to create a painting about the Puerto Rican flag in four manifestations, all coinciding. The painting is called "Flag Me Down." As a daughter of the PR diaspora, I've been presented with the image of the typical red, white and blue flag countless times throughout my life, and at some point, started to consider it's meaning and symbolism. This led me to want to create a painting, presenting this image alongside three alternatively-colored flags, which connote multilayered meanings; from PR's political status as a US colony, the effects of La Promesa, and recent hurricanes, to ideas around being "Ni de aquí, ni de allá," and our intersectional racial identities, among other things.

I was inspired directly by the following works:
  • David Hammons "African American Flag" 1990
  • Grabadores por Grabadores "Flag in Mourning" 2016
  • Tajh Rust "-nation (hyphenation)" 2016
  • Miguel Luciano "Puerto Rican Flag" 2017

"Siete Potencias Africanas" 2018, acrylic on canvas, 11x14"
I was always fascinated by the tall glass-encased candles, readily available in NYC shops. Each color corresponding to a different spiritual symbolism, the rainbow-colored candles represent the Seven African Powers, a pantheon of Orishas. I thought about how the colors could also correspond to other energetic systems, such as the seven Chakras of the body.

"Basquiat's Crown and His Islands" 2015, oil and gold leaf on canvas, 11x14"
While traveling in Puerto Rico, I noticed many of the street artists had incorporated Basquiat's crown in to their pieces. I am a huge fan of Basquiat and it got me to thinking about how his legacy still captures the imagination; how many feel strong affinities towards him, and how often his crown appears in all sorts of art. Being a self-taught artist, a native-New Yorker with parents of Puerto Rican and Haitian descent - I wanted to represent his multi-ethnic background by showing "his islands"- with his ubiquitous gold crown dominating the foreground.

"Princess Charm" 2015, acrylic on canvas, 8x10".
This painting is a depiction of an actual gold charm that I own. When I was in Junior High School my mother gave me this gold charm as a gift - it reads "Puerto Rican Princess." I proudly wore it to school, but didn't know it would attract unwanted attention from schoolmates questioning my cultural authenticity.

"Cowrie Shell" 2015, acrylic on canvas, 8x10"
I've always been drawn to cowrie shells and find them to be beautiful. Cowries have a spiritual significance and are easily found in Puerto Rico and other Caribbean and Latin American countries.

"Puerto Rican Linguistics" 2015, acrylic on canvas, 8x10".
I painted this immediately upon returning from Puerto Rico. These are words and concepts that intrigued me when thinking about the island, it's history and political status. Hand written words float in the background while a blue shadow of a machete crosses the foreground.

"Soñando en Flamboyán Puertorriqueño" 2015, oil on canvas, 18x24"
While traveling in Puerto Rico, the Flamboyan tree's bright red pop can be seen throughout the otherwise green landscape. The Flamboyán is a typical symbol of the island. I created this painting about a girl taking a nap, curled close to a majestic Flamboyán, not just sleeping, but dreaming within it, as it blooms beautiful and bright with her imagination.

Sunday, July 5, 2020

The Time is (Always) Now to do the Work - Arts & Anti-Racist Resources

During this historic time, in the midst of a global pandemic, and what some have called a “Great Awakening” there has been widespread social awareness of systemic racism in the U.S. and most every industry has responded. Initially, statements of solidarity with #BlackLivesMatter were presented to the public by many corporations and organizations. Subsequently, the public has pushed back with a demand for these organizations to be held accountable to these statements and truly challenge their roles in perpetuating systemic racism.

In a world where everything seems to be moving so fast, through the internet and social media, many people from all sectors have been sharing lists upon lists of information with anti-racist tools, strategies and resources. From my perspective as an arts and cultural worker, the discipline that interests me most is visual arts - and some of the most important forums for discourse around visual arts are through museums. I believe strongly in the arts as a viable tool for activating personal growth, societal change and social justice. As I mentioned in my previous blog post Increasing Diversity, Equity & Inclusion at NYC Cultural institutions, now is the time to build on what’s been done so far, and push forth in this work.

Keeping in mind that each and every great change begins within the individual, I’d like to acknowledge the importance of people (from all walks of life) doing anti-racist work - not just now, but continuously - even when this red-hot moment has passed. In order for the organizations to work at dismantling their structural racism, the people who make up those organizations must be actively working on themselves, too.

For that reason, I have decided to gather up some of the information I’ve received in the recent months - the information I’ve found most interesting - and share it here. Some of these links may be useful to think about on an individual level, within groups, as well as an organizational level. Included in this list are: anti-racism resources, Black cultural organization lists, tool-kits for transforming arts organizations, and news articles pertaining to museums in NYC, across the country and the globe, which are responding to this historical moment.

[Note: I did not write these lists or articles, I am merely sharing them.]


Anti-racist Resources - AirTable
This is a constantly growing database of anti-racist resources. Articles, books, podcasts, movies, PDFs and more. There are also places to donate and support. #BlackLivesMatter

Justice in June
"The result: 'Justice in June,' offering three learning plans for anyone hoping to spend the month taking a step to 'becoming an active ally to the black community.' Choose how much time you have per day — 10, 25 or 45 minutes — and the learning plan tells you what media to consume."

Scaffolded Anti-Racist Resources
This is a working document for scaffolding anti-racism resources. The goal is to facilitate growth for white folks to become allies, and eventually accomplices for anti-racist work. These resources have been ordered in an attempt to make them more accessible. We will continue to add resources.

This is a working, growing, and collectively-sourced list of Black centered and/or led arts entities (non-profits, collectives, and small businesses) in NYC. Thank you to all who have contributed.


Arts Go Black
From Caribbean Cultural Center African Diaspora Institute “Today, on Juneteenth, CCCADI officially launches the #ArtsGoBlack Campaign for organizations that wish to take real action. If you want to join us, please visit and take the pledge. Once you have signed up, you will receive a toolkit for your use to let your constituents know that you are ready to end racism in the Arts and Cultural field as well as a questionnaire. This is everyone’s work so know that this is open to every organization, funder, agency, or business.”

Solidarity Is
Welcome to Solidarity Is, a project that generates tools, trainings, and narratives to facilitate transformative solidarity practices for movement building organizations and activists who are invested in meaningful social change.


A global list of Black-owned/founded museums, art galleries, and spaces

Anti-Racism for Arts Administrators — Young Professionals in the Art

Anti-Racist Imperatives for Southern California Museums

Culturally Responsive Museums Are Leading the Way

How UK museums are responding to Black Lives Matter

Institutional Racism in the Arts: The Need to Hire, Retain, and Promote People of Color

On the Limits of Care and Knowledge: 15 Points Museums Must Understand to Dismantle Structural Injustice

People are calling for museums to be abolished. Can whitewashed American history be rewritten?

Smithsonian’s Leader Says ‘Museums Have a Social Justice Role to Play’
Lonnie Bunch, who oversees a host of museums and libraries, says the role of cultural institutions is to make people “feel comfortable with nuance and complexity.”

To Bear Witness: Real Talk about White Supremacy in Art Museums Today

What Does a Social Justice Curator Do? The Bronx Museum’s Jasmine Wahi on Why Every Art Institution Should Have One

What Should Museums Do?
Let’s take art history apart and reimagine it.

Friday, June 19, 2020

Increasing Diversity, Equity & Inclusion at NYC Cultural institutions

For the last two and a half years, I have been a student in the Weissman Arts Administration Master's program at Baruch College in New York City. And for the last semester, I have been working on my capstone project and writing my M.A. thesis. I graduated on June 8th, 2020. My thesis was nominated for the Marlow Prize in Arts Leadership 2019/20. Although I didn't win, it's still a great honor. This article is about my capstone and thesis, and why I think it's important.

Before I go into detail about my project, I want to share why I chose it. For the last five years, I have been involved in a number of art-related "passion projects." Many of them landed me within circles of people and organizations, such as the phenomenal Dr. Marta Moreno Vega at Caribbean Cultural Center African Diaspora Institute, working to advance cultural equity and social justice through arts and culture. I've been lucky enough to work on a few substantial projects which followed the creation of and directly affected the development of NYC Department of Cultural Affairs' (DCLA) first ever cultural plan, called CreateNYC, published in 2017. One major tenet of the plan was diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) within NYC's cultural institutions. Since the plan's release, there has been an Action Plan (2019) with related DEI programs and initiatives launched. 

This kind of work is important to me because I understand the impact, personally. I come from a working-class, first-generation Puerto Rican and Ukrainian, multi-ethnic/racial background. I'm what they call a "non-traditional student." I am also a "first-generation college student" and "lifetime learner." My road has been a winding one. My college career started out as a teenager at BMCC (CUNY) for my A.A., then as an adult at Hunter (CUNY) for my B.A., and later at Baruch (CUNY) achieving my M.A. I know first hand how important CUNY is. I understand how CUNY offers an accessible entry-point (or for me, various entry-points) for people striving towards higher education; those who might not want to, or be able to attend other universities for a myriad of reasons.

It is CUNY's accessibility and affordability which make the student body incredibly diverse, both socioeconomically and in terms of race and ethnicity. Because of this great diversity, the DCLA decided to partner with CUNY to create initiatives meant to help increase DEI at cultural institutions, as was the call made by the cultural plan. One such initiative, CUNY Cultural Corps, offers students paid internships at arts organizations. 

During my time as a grad student at Baruch, I noticed some things that made me question the DCLA's Action Plan and CUNY's Cultural Corps program. Particularly, I questioned the functionality of DEI initiatives as they related to graduate students like myself who were studying the specialized field of arts administration. From there, I came up with the idea for my capstone project, CUNY as Cultural Conduit: Pathways for Arts Administration Graduate Students Towards Securing Leadership Positions and Increasing DEI at NYC's Cultural Institutions. I have included the thesis Abstract, below. 
     This capstone project aims to identify gaps, increase communication, connections, and opportunities in creating a more culturally diverse and equitable pathway towards leadership positions at New York City's arts and cultural institutions. Through consulting for the Baruch College (CUNY) Weissman School of Arts and Sciences MA program in Arts Administration, I use it as a particular focus and example of professional leadership training, and make a case as to why this talent pool should and may be incorporated into a road toward leadership positions at New York City cultural institutions, and assisting in increasing diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) therein. 

     According to research findings of the NYC Department of Cultural Affairs (DCLA) Cultural Plan, CreateNYC (2017), "Staff and leadership of the city's arts and cultural sector should more fully reflect the diversity of our city's population," with a strategy being to, "Support programs that promote arts and culture career pathways for individuals in underserved communities, such as DCLA/CUNY Cultural Corps." Yet three years after the plan's release, the administration struggles to implement accountability measures for cultural institutions or create a viable talent pathway toward leadership positions (as noted at City Council hearing at City Hall, Sept 17th, 2019, "Oversight - Diversity in Cultural Institutions and The New York City DCLA Workforce Demographics Pilot Study- Findings, Results, and Next Steps”). While it is true that CUNY Cultural Corps has provided paid internship opportunities to undergraduate students, CUNY graduate-level students majoring in specialized Arts Administration programs were left out until recently being incorporated into the program as of Fall 2020.   

     Through a series of interviews with arts and cultural professionals who are directly involved in or knowledgeable about policies and practices related to Arts Administration graduate programs, public policy, hiring practices and DEI initiatives, I have gained an understanding of current trends and programs in place for students aiming for careers in the arts and cultural field. By researching scholarly literature and gathering data on aforementioned topics, I have analyzed my findings in terms of the need, potential, and proven strategies towards increasing DEI in cultural organizations. Finally, I have identified areas of opportunity for the Weissman School of Arts and Sciences MA program in Arts Administration, including but not limited to those offered by the DCLA/CUNY Cultural Corps

In the midst of my last semester at Baruch, and while writing my thesis, the COVID-19 pandemic hit. The good news is that I had a lot of time to sit at home to research and write. I presented my thesis on May 18th to my program director, David Milch, and a group of my peers, on Zoom. I also had my graduation commencement ceremony on Zoom, June 8th.

During the time in-between, a major uprising sparked across the U.S. as a result of the murder of a Black man in Minneapolis, MN, named George Floyd, at the hands of the police. Protests abound as people of all walks of life passionately call for systemic racism to be identified and remedied, once and for all. Corporations and institutions - including many arts organizations - have released statements of solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement, and rejecting racism.

However, when we look at the arts and cultural field specifically, the inequities have historically been, and are still stark. Many arts and cultural workers have been saying publicly that these organizations will have to do better than releasing a mere statement, they will have to put the long-term work to increase diversity and address the structural racism present within their own systems.

With that said, I plan on taking the ideas presented within my thesis and advocating for them to be brought to fruition as one small part of the process of dismantling inequitable structures so prevalent in our field. I believe that DEI programs, in conjunction with policy and system change, will be necessary in creating new pathways towards diversifying the arts and cultural field, as we collectively begin to address these issues.

I will end with an excerpt from a statement recently released by Gonzalo Casals, one of my former professors, mentor, and newly-appointed Commissioner of the DCLA.

Let’s talk about gatekeeping. Let’s examine the power dynamics in our daily interactions in order to understand how our decisions risk perpetuating a system of oppression. No one should be waiting for this moment to pass and for things to “return to normal.” Our new normal has to be constant engagement in the work of undoing racial injustice through examination and collective action.

[If you would like to  request a copy of my thesis or want updates on the follow-up work related to my project, please feel free to contact me via email.]

Saturday, May 23, 2020

Graduation Amidst a Pandemic

     At the beginning of the Spring 2020 semester, my final semester at Baruch, I became the President of our student organisation: the Weissman Graduate Arts Administration Network (GAAN). By March, the world was in a whirlwind of pandemic problems. For students, that meant completing courses online and those who are graduating this June are preparing to do so virtually. To sum up my experience being the President of GAAN during this uncertain time, I decided to post the farewell message I wrote for our newsletter, here. 

Dear Friends and Colleagues,
I hope this message finds you and your loved ones well. As we near the end of the Spring 2020 Semester, I am writing my last email newsletter as the President of GAAN. I am preparing to graduate from the program and leave this group in the hands of my trusty Executive Board colleagues: Mitchell-Lee Van Rooij (VP), Sarah Kearns (Treasurer), and Kym Boyce (Secretary). 
As you may know, at the beginning of this semester, GAAN held one General Interest Meeting and we were working diligently on planning exciting events for us to participate in together. Specifically, we were planning a Professional Development Exchange special event Self-care for Artists and Arts Administrators; GAAN Explorers special event Audience Engagement at MoMA; and of course an end of semester/graduation party. No one could have predicted that a pandemic would hit and that our campus would be closed. 
Obviously, the closure put a damper on our plans for Spring 2020, however, we didn’t let it stop us. We have continued to plan for the future of GAAN being a voice, resource and network for students in the Arts Administration program. In the meantime, we have been sharing important information on our GAAN social media pages and participating in Zoom meetings to touch base with our classmates. We submitted our budget proposals which were approved for the next academic year, and in 20/21 we expect the aforementioned events to take place, and even more happenings to enhance the Arts Administration student experience as GAAN grows. 
We have decided to postpone our GAAN Executive Board Elections until next semester when things should be easier to coordinate in transitioning a new team on board. I would like to urge those of you who are interested in student leadership to consider running for a position to be on the GAAN E-Board. 
Speaking from experience, first being VP in Fall 2019 and then President in Spring 2020, participating in GAAN was one of the best things that came out of my time at Baruch. At times it was challenging and required a lot of work. But in the end, I was able to contribute to building a group that I believe has and will have value for our community of students and cultural leaders. I was able to gain leadership, administrative, and group-building skills in a hands-on way that I could not have learned in a classroom. Most importantly, I had the opportunity to work and create relationships with some extraordinary people. Luckily, some of the students who’ve come before me have been active in creating a new Baruch Alumni in the Arts Network (AITA) which I plan on becoming involved with.
During this transitional time, I hope to create a strong link between GAAN and AITA that continues on into the future. As I said in the very first GAAN Professional Development Exchange, “We are our own best resource,” and I believe that wholeheartedly. 
Moving forward, in spite of the challenges we face, my student cohort and I will be graduating this semester and it’s a great accomplishment. Our commencement ceremony will not be held at Barclays as planned, but instead on Zoom. Our Weissman Arts Administration MA Hooding Ceremony will be postponed until a time when we can all come together for a formal in-person ceremony. I’ll be looking forward to that very much.
In the meantime, I’m happy to announce that I have been working along with some of my GAAN friends and the chapter co-founders of Young Professionals in the Arts (YPA) on an exciting project. We will be presenting for the AAAE Conference on Wednesday June 10th, with an online program called From Arts Admin Programs into the Real World: How to Set Up Students for Success. There are lots of interesting programs scheduled throughout the conference with tickets available for low or no cost. I will post all of the details below - we hope you will attend.
Even though this topsy-turvy semester is coming to a close, it’s not over yet -  we still have a few more things to do. See info and links below.
Thank you for everything. Keep in touch!
Lorie Caval

GAAN President, Spring 2020

Association of Arts Administration Educators (AAAE) -
As the field of arts administration continues to grow and evolve, what skills do students of arts management need to succeed on campus and once they join the workforce? How do we adequately prepare the next generation of arts managers for their professional work via pedagogical approaches and other forms of support?
The in-person conference (originally scheduled for May 28-30 at Baruch College, NYC) has been cancelled, but the 2020 conference will proceed virtually as a series of online sessions to be held every week day in May and June.
Graduate Arts Administration Network (GAAN) and Young Professionals in the Arts (YPA) will be presenting during this 2020 online edition with a program called, From Arts Admin Programs into The Real World: How to Set Up Students for Success.

Please check out this link for more info:
A note from. AAAE: We welcome all to participate in the AAE Conference, regardless of ability to pay. However, we would appreciate support for the financial shortfall its cancellation has caused the organization.

For those who have or are graduating from the program, check out Baruch Alumni in the Arts (AITA)

The AITA leadership team (Anastasia Gudko+ Jessica Epstein + Cathy Price), together with fellow Art Administrators have developed a plan and vision for the future of our community. Stay tuned for updates! 

If you are interested in joining an Event Planning Committee or the Leadership of AITA, please send an email to

Facebook group -
LinkedIn -

Something for all 2020 graduates 🎓
*May 15 - Pres Obama High School Commencement Address
*May 15 - Pres Obama HSBU Collegiate Commencement Address
*May 16 - Oprah Commencement Address
*June 6 - Barack and Michelle Obama and Lady Gaga Collegiate Commencement Addresses.

Baruch Commencement 2020

Baruch College is working out the details to host a Virtual Commencement experience on Monday, June 8. Creative students, faculty, and staff are working together to ensure that the virtual celebration is special and memorable for all graduates and their families and friends around the world.

For more information go to the Student Life Website:
Each term, Baruch College goes through an evaluation process for our instructors and courses with the goal of making them better. We can't accomplish this without your comments and suggestions. This information will provide us with concrete steps we can take to improve our classes.
*Help make classes better for everyone
*The survey takes just a few minutes of your time
*Your contributions will be anonymous
*See evaluation results about 6-to-8 weeks after the semester ends
If you have not received your personalized link, goto:

Lorie Caval, President - Mitchell-lee van Rooij, Vice President - Kimberly Boyce-Lazare, Secretary - Sarah Kearns, Treasurer.

Weissman School of Arts and Science Graduate Arts Admin Network (GAAN), Executive Board Members Spring 2020.

Friday, January 17, 2020

Otra Vez! 43rd Annual Three Kings Day Parade!

For the second year in a row, I lent a hand to my friends at El Museo del Barrio for their amazing, over-the-top annual event - Three Kings Day Parade & Celebration. This year being their 43rd, was entitled, Nuestros Barrios Unidos: Celebrating our Collective Strength, honoring New York City's immigrant and migrant communities of past and present. The parade is a beautiful tribute to Puerto Rican, Caribbean, Latin American and Latinx cultures, and the el Barrio neighborhood. It also helps to keep the cultural and religious tradition of the Three Kings, Dia De Los Reyes (AKA the Epiphany) alive. 

Being that I did it last year, I was asked once again to assist on the Facebook Live filming, hosted by Rhina "La Reina del Barrio" Valentin. I never knew that doing PA work would be interesting to me, but it was great fun to do it with Rhina and her comrades, J Spock and Frank as we ran through the parade filming all of the fun and grandeur featuring giant puppets, live camels and  performances by Bomba Yo, Annette Aguilar & the Stringbeans, Fogo Azul, and Wabafu Garifuna Dance Theater.

The Three Kings event starts early with a breakfast and awards ceremony honoring the Kings, Madrinas and Padrinos -  which includes addresses from local elected officials. Next is the main event - the colorful parade - marching from 106th and Park all the way up to La Marqueta (which has an after party of it's own). And finally, the after-party back at El Museo featuring Los Planeros de la 21 live in concert.  

Here are the Facebook livestream video links:

Morning Interviews with Kings at El Museo
Bomba Yo! Parranda at El Museo
Entire Honoree Award Ceremony at El Museo
Entire Parade Route
After Party at La Marqueta
Live Concert with Los Planeros de la 21 at EL Museo

Backstage with El Museo Executive Director, Patrick Charpenel; Director of Communications, Rose Mary Cortez; Grand Marshall, Marcos Saavedra; King Emeritus, Jesus "Papoletto" Melendez; and some of the Madrenas and Padrinos.

Rhina Valentin (playing double-duty as a Madrina "Celia Cruz" and Facebook Live Hostess) with "King" Elba Cabrera. 

Before an interview with Univision TV.

Rhina being interviewed by MC Victor Cruz.

Bomba Yo

Honoree breakfast award ceremony.

"King" Elba Cabrera speech 

"King" Elba Cabrera

"King" Julissa Arce

Madrinas and Padrinos

Start of the parade route

Rhina with Public Advocate, Jumaane Williams

Rhina with Bomba Yo

Rhina with Fogo Azul

Three Kings

At La Marqueta

A parranda at la Marqueta

(all photos by me - see more on IG @whippedhoney)

My Work in Debtfair at the Whitney Biennial

A few months ago, I responded to an open call from Occupy Museums for their Debtfair project. OM is a movement born out of Occupy Wall S...