Nuyorican art: Miguel Luciano’s ‘Ride or Die’

Miguel Luciano Photo taken from Bric

We constantly explore the relationship between music, arts, culture and history, by researching the extramusical relationships between artists, their audiences and the places they perform. In a recent post, we shared the vast experience that Edwin Bonilla, born in Puerto Rico and raised in New Jersey, has had throughout his lifetime.

The incredible music scene he has created and been part of has also been influenced by a number of political and social reasons, including the relationship between Puerto Rico and the United States, and Puerto Rico’s current debt crisis. This serves as the backdrop for Ride or Die, an exhibition of sculptures, paintings and related work by Miguel Luciano, a Brooklyn-based Puerto Rican Rican visual artist. Ride or Die acts as a powerful commentary on the current economic and political crisis in Puerto Rico and examines its impact on the diaspora. Check out the promo video, also accompanied by enticing timbal music.

Also born in San Juan de Puerto Rico, Miguel Luciano was a recent fellow of the smART power program – an initiative of the Bronx Museum of the Arts and the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. smARTpower sent 18 U.S. artists to 15 countries around the world to create community-based art projects. A couple of examples in this exhibition include: “Porto Rican Cotton Picker” commemorates Puerto Rican migrants who joined Mexicans in migrating to Pima County, Arizona to pick the high-quality cotton grown there. And  “51′(se acabaron las promesas/the promises are over)” a Schwinn Hornet dating to 1951, the year before the island became a Commonwealth.

Miguel Luciano Photo taken from Bric
“51′(se acabaron las promesas/the promises are over)”

On exhibit through 5th of March at BRIC Arts Media House in downtown Brooklyn, the work features a series of sculptures made with customized Schwinn bicycles that the artist links to flags and other objects of political and cultural significance.

According to a press release issued at the exhibit’s opening, “This body of work questions between the United States and Puerto Rico at the centennial mark of U.S. citizenship for Puerto Ricans, while also acting as a powerful commentary on the current economic crisis on the island and its impact on the diaspora. Luciano’s bikes also speak directly to Nuyorican popular culture, especially the traditions of Puerto Rican bike clubs , active in New York since the 1970s .”

Used as a form of personal and creative expression, the bike clubs also foster a tight sense of community. “In Puerto Rico, owning a Schwinn bike in decades past was a signifier of statue, a connection to wealthier mainstream American culture,” the press release says. The exhibit, curated by Elizabeth Ferrer, BRIC’s Vice President of Contemporary Art, is on display throughout 5th of March at BRIC. Partially documented by Sounds and Colours.

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