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Independence Day

1998
Oil/ collage on canvas
6' x 4'

The title of this painting is also the title given to the installation in which it was first featured. It was part of the Ame-Rican Borders: Artists Ponder the 100 Years Since the US Invasion of Puerto Rico exhibit at Taller Puertorriqueño, Philadelphia. The title and theme are in response to the centennial commemorated on July 25th, 1998, just 3 weeks after July 4th. Having lived 5 blocks away from Independence Hall in the heart of Philadelphia's historic district, I had many opportunities to ponder on revolution and independence. Since I had no Puerto Rican Independence Day to celebrate, I decided to observe, on July 25th, 1998, a conceptual independence celebration starting with a tribute to the Nationalists.

The Nationalist movement was still in effect in 1952 when plans were well underway to convert Puerto Rico into a "free associated state". Puerto Rico did and still "belongs to, but is not part of" the United States. In 1954, four young nationalists staged an attention-grabbing protest of the island's new status. Lolita Lebrón, Rafael Cancel Miranda, Andres Figueroa Cordero and Irving Flores fired shots from the gallery at the capitol, demanding that Puerto Rico be free. Although no one was killed during the incident, the Nationalists served 25 years in prison as a result. This painting depicts the scene of the Nationalists being detained outside of the Capitol. The Capitol building is glazed in the colors of the flag symbolizing their take-over of the building and how they seized world attention for their cause on that day. My historic Philly influence is evident in the collaged text of the US Constitution in the background and the US Declaration of Independence in the foreground. To keep this image consistent with my other political work, the text of course is inverted.


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