EN FOCO | Photographers  

© Manuel Rivera-Ortiz
Stranded, Sancti Spíritus, Cuba, 2002

Manuel Rivera-Ortiz
Corazón Tree, Girón border town, Cuba, 2002

Manuel Rivera-Ortiz
Tobacco Harvesting, Valle de Viñales, Cuba, 2002

Manuel Rivera-Ortiz
Born: 1968, Guayama, Puerto Rico
Resides: Rochester, NY

Puerto Rican

Selected Exhibitions:
Arts Council, Rochester, NY, 2007
Genesee Center for the Arts & Education, Buffalo, NY, 2006
El Museo Francisco Oller y Diego Rivera, Buffalo, NY, 2006, 2004
Zoellner Arts Center, Bethlehem, PA, 2005
Chelsea Art Museum, New York, NY, 2005
Casa Hispana, Rochester, NY
Memorial Art Gallery, Rochester, NY, 2004, 2003
Credit Suisse, New York, NY, 2003
En Foco at Longwood Art Gallery at Hostos, Bronx, NY
En Foco at Seventh & Second Photo Gallery, New York, NY

BA, Nazareth College of Rochester, NY, 1995
MS, Columbia University, Joseph Pulitzer Graduate School of Journalism, NY, 1998

Artist of the Year Award, Arts & Cultural Council for Greater Rochester, 2007
En Foco’s 2004 New Works Photography Awards

Nueva Luz photographic journal, Volume 11#2 (En Foco: Bronx, 2006)

“I went to Cuba looking for the Puerto Rico of my childhood, a journey of personal self-discovery and remembrance. I had known that Cuba was still very much like home in the 1970s; I had heard it talked about around our tiny living room by my father’s friends who had migrated from Cuba to Puerto Rico some years before. I remember their tales about El Lider, and about the hardships. Mostly I remember thinking how close to home their stories of poverty resonated, and how difficult it was to hear them retold.

As the present-day American/Cuban political debate continues to weave its way into the history books, the living monument to 1950s Americana and excess, Cuba continues to be a photographer’s paradise with its old cars and its cities caught in a time warp. In Puerto Rico, strip malls and Burger Kings pockmark the landscape in lieu of palm trees and open roads. ¡Venceremos! read the signs in Cuba.

Politics is everywhere on both islands: one struggles to chose while the other one struggles to be given a choice. Intermingled with real lives comes the nostalgic smell of burning wood and trash coming from private back yards; of children on the streets playing made-up games with old bicycle tires and a stick; of tired faces of a people who rely only on their wits driven by need — a truth real for both islands. ‘De un ave, dos allas (from one bird, two wings)’, Cubans will tell you about Puerto Rico and Cuba. Puerto Rico and Cuba, a story written on the backs of farmers who still grow their own sustenance while watching the young forget. Two islands, one very similar flag.“




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