The economic crisis that has been affecting Puerto Rico for years, was aggravated after the island was hit by hurricane María on September 20th, 2017. There were billions of dollars in damage to the infrastructure on the island. The entire population was left in the dark (about three million people) in what became the longest blackout in U.S. history. Overnight, hundreds of thousands of residents became homeless. Thousands more were without access to basic necessities like safe drinking water and medical care. Hurricane María officially claimed the lives of almost 3,000 people.
All of these problems caused a massive exodus of Puerto Ricans to USA. Between 2010-2020, Puerto Rico has lost almost 12% of its population.
I used the chlorophyll process that uses elements of nature such as leaves and sunlight, not only because nature plays an important role in these stories, but also as a way to reconcile with what at some point represented so much destruction and pain.
This work was made to give a voice to those Puerto Ricans who have chosen to build a future and make their home in North Carolina. These leaves tell the story that there might be ferocious natural disasters that can destroy buildings, houses, smash trees, change the shape of mountains and cover an entire country with a veil of sorrow and stupor, but the human spirit is stronger than that. In order to provide for their loved ones, in order to thrive, people will face tremendous fears and challenges. Leaving behind what was once familiar, some Puerto Ricans arrived here with what they could fit in only one suitcase. With courage and determination, this Puerto Rican diaspora experienced the defiance of a different language and culture and faced the unknown with resilience. These leaves are telling that truth, that is more powerful than any hurricane that might exist.