I painted sixteen portraits of Puerto Ricans living in the island, to be shown with portraits of Puerto Ricans living in the San Francisco Bay Area  at a Bay Area Gallery this year. Here’s a little more about me and about the portrait series that preceded this one.

Photo of an afro-caribbean woman sitting for a portrait

This woman lived in the heart of Santurce.

Why?

For a few years now, I have known that I wanted to paint a series of portraits of Puerto Ricans. I feel that more than ever, visibility is important for Puerto Ricans. The fate of our island is being decided by a Fiscal Control Board. This, is the real disaster that preceded hurricane Maria by a couple of years. While there are many economic recovery efforts under way, Puerto Ricans everywhere exist largely outside of the public’s consciousness. This won’t be done just through the discussion of the politics of boricua representation that is sure to follow the viewing of these portraits. This show aims to open a space where the economic and moral consequences of Puerto Ricans as colonial subjects can be considered.

Photo of Hector Ivan posing for this painting.

This was the first Puerto Rico portrait with light from a skylight.

How did you paint 16 portraits in six weeks?

I don’t work from photos. My models are live, but I work fast. I believe paintings made with someone posing are fresher and more alive than the portraits  I painted each of the 16 portraits measuring 36 x 36 in (91 x 91 cm) in four hours, but I put in an hour or two of revisions later for some of them.

My college friends found sitters that could pose at their home. I documented my progress in a blog that I shared with project backers. I do not plan to sell all the paintings, because I would like for them to travel together and become a catalyst for the discussion of Puerto Rican issues.

How did you pay for this series?
Thanks to more than 120 backers, my Kickstarter campaign reached its funding goal. I raised more than $8,000 for the island part of the project. This money paid for canvasses, transportation, a stipend to the sitters, and the cost of shipping the paintings back to the Bay Area. Completing and showing this series will cost $12,000 per my calculations.

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I want to share the work of Rebeca Garcia-Gonzalez, who painted 16 portraits of Puerto Ricans living in the island. Check out her project at http://www.garcia-gonzalez.com Thanks for reading!