The body of work selected for this exhibition reflects not only the hardships and the turmoil the West Harlem community experienced during the pandemic, but social unrest of BLM and the plight of the undocumented. This exhibition is a visual expression of the body under distress, straining to recover and transform. Through each piece we experience the series of breaths taken by the artist in an effort to work through life. Each artist struggles to build the muscle that will uplift their human spirit and inspire their resilience. 

The first word that comes to mind in reflecting on this experience is representation and the many voices that were brought together to give life to this community exhibition. Every aspect of this show has been designed with the intention of ensuring that we recognize the diverse voices that make up our community and share how we are coming along in this time of world wide health crisis and social upheaval. Each artist’s work is a representation of the bravery that it takes to put your vulnerabilities on a canvas and we are here to celebrate and be uplifted by them.

José Miguel Ortiz 

Visual Artist, Art Educator and Program Development 

José is a painter, educator, and multi-media artist. His paintings layer symbols and myths to create possibilities for the connection between all peoples and cultures; He was selected by the MTA: Arts for Transit Project and commissioned for the 183rd Street and Jerome Avenue subway in the Bronx. He and Choreographer Sita Frederick co-founded Areytos Performance Works, a multi-disciplinary performance company that presents contemporary dance-theatre rooted in Caribbean traditions and the principles of social justice. As an Educator and Arts Administrator, José has worked for Henry Street Settlement, The Bronx Museum, Anyone Can Fly Foundation, and many other national and international arts organizations. Most recently he worked as Program Manager for Young Artist Initiatives at the Joan Mitchell Foundation. He holds a BFA from the School of Visual Arts, NYC. 

Lisandra María Ramos

Artist, Administrator, Educator, and Cultural Worker

Born and raised in Harlem & Quisqueya Heights. She is one of the Co-Founders and Co-Directors of Fulana, a Latina video and satire collective. An alumna of the NALAC Leadership Institute, the Lincoln Center Director’s Lab, and the Women’s Project Director’s lab. Lisandra has been an instructor for emergeNYC, formerly at the Hemispheric Institute for performance and politics where she served as the Assistant Director until recently.  Lisandra currently serves on the Board of Directors for the Centro Cívico Cultural Dominicano. She holds a B.A. and M.A. degree in multidisciplinary arts from Union College and NYU’s Gallatin School respectively,  in addition to an M.F.A from NYU’s Graduate School of Arts & Science in creative writing.