Monday, January 9, 2012

Imna Arroyo's Print Installations about Ancestral Heritage and Faith

Imna Arroyo is an artistic force to be reckoned with. Her installations about ancestry,and the rich Afro-Caribbean blend that is her own personal heritage, has propelled her to create installations which engage a re-examination of history and bring about discussions on matters of faith.

I recently came across Arroyo's work and found an artist committed not only to investigating the complexity of her own cultural past, but presenting it as an educational tool for the masses unfamiliar with the Caribbean and how it came to be so culturally diverse. Arroyo, who  is of African, Hispanic and Taino descent, was born in Puerto Rico, and came to the US for her education. She teaches at East Connecticut State University and has exhibited her work widely in the US, Mexico and Cuba. Arroyo works with images and symbols associated with her ethnic identities and combines them with her physical/spiritual identities as a woman and her guidance from the Orishas in the practice of Santeria. The installation above is dedicated to the Orisha Yemaya, a symbol of the Ocean, the essence of Motherhood and protector of Children. 

Arroyo often combines her interests in printmaking, creating works on banner-sized paper/fabric, and incorporates them with handmade objects covered with symbols associated with the subject. Her other series "Ancestors of the Passage" and "Trial of Bones" describe the horrific losses of human life as Africans were transported across the Atlantic Ocean during the 'Middle Passage' lead her to visit Africa to explore the detention centers where people were gathered and held imprisoned before bringing them as slaves to the Caribbean and the States. 

Overall, Arroyo ambitiously presents these subjects an enlightens us about elements of history and faith. I applaud her ingenuity and am intrigued to know more about her work. The Orishas guide her journey as she identifies what it is to be a woman and the fortitude with which she embarks on her path. All artists embark on their own creative paths. It is pleasing to see how this artist has chosen to follow hers.

1 comment:

  1. Arroyo's newest work can be seen at the Shared Memories exhibit, Through an extensive collaboration with Cuba, she continues to develop a visual language and scholarship, that pastes together memory fragments that create a heritage informed by Yoruba-based religions, their philosophy and aesthetic legacy. Arroyo's work can also be followed on: