Friday, October 22, 2021

Back in Puerto Rico, Martorell's Exhibit Grounds Me

Last week I had the opportunity to take a short trip to Puerto Rico with my friend, Marie. It was the first time I had been to the island since my trip with Caribbean Cultural Center African Diaspora Institute (CCCADI) to participate in the Community Arts University Without Walls (CAUWW) program in 2015. That's when I started this blog, Travesia Artistica, initially to document my amazing experiences in the two-week program that took us from the campus is InterAmerican University, to arts and cultural sites all over Puerto Rico. Now as the blog lives on six years later, it is only fitting that I write about my brief return to the island I love so much. 

CAUWW was a totally unique program which is no longer offered, so I was extremely lucky to have participated when I did, lead by the indomitable Dr.  Marta Moreno Vega, who has since retired. One of the incredible things my cohort experienced was a day trip to Ponce, in which we managed to do many things, including taking a private tour of renowned Puerto Rican artist Antonio Martorell's studio. It was a pleasure to meet him and have the opportunity to experience the work of a prolific multidisciplinary artist first hand. 

Coincidentally, upon my 2021 visit to Puerto Rico, I noticed that Museo de las Américas was about to open a new show: Entretelas - Antonio Martorell y sus amigos. In fact, Marie and I were able to go on opening day! I thought this was the perfect thing to post about here, as a full-circle moment, especially because so many events have taken place worldwide and particularly in Puerto Rico since the last time I was there. Martorell's work touches on it all, poetically.

While lovely to behold, Martorell's masterful body of work in Entretelas... reaches for a "state of grace" and recovery after four years of  tragedies caused by "misgovernment, seasonal hurricanes on the Atlantic... the multiplication and mutation of the pandemic virus, the tremors and the earthquakes [which have forced] changes in Puerto Rican daily life." 

The exhibit, starting with portraits painted onto heavy tapestries explores subject matter from family portraits, to those of historical figures, and those who were wrongfully reincarcerated throughout history. Although there are many paintings in the first salon, in typical Martorell style. he takes a left in the second salon presenting a variety of styles and materials, from colorful fibers to wood and even found fallen tree branches from Hurricane Maria's fallout, reminding us of the devastation experienced, and the friends and family members who have been lost.

I was lucky to be able to see Entretelas... first hand and even take some photos which I share with you here. 

Courtyard inside of Museo de las Americas 

On the second floor, facing into the courtyard

Didactic wall panel for Enretelas...

First room of the exhibition. Portraits painted on upholstery fabrics 

Self-portrait of Martorell 

The Mortal Wall

First photo credit by Marie, remainder by Lorie - you can find more photos of this and more exhibits on my IG @lorie.caval

Museo de las Américas is located at Cuartel de Ballajá, Second floor, Old San Juan, Puerto Rico

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