Professor Michals

HW 1 – Andy Montesdeoca

This photograph was taken by Christopher Gregory-Rivera, a Puerto Rican photographer. This image is a part of a series titled Hurricane Maria, in which Gregory-Rivera documents the destruction the year the hurricane hit the island in 2017, and then again in 2018–just one year later. This photograph is meant to display the quotidian nature of Caribbean life–one can see paradise while doing the dishes. Within the context of the larger series, this photo is from 2018, which displays the aftermath of Maria. By demonstrating the proximity of nature, Gregory-Rivera is demonstrating to the viewer the duality of nature: its beauty and destructive unpredictability.

I chose this photographer’s work because a lot of his work is set in Latin America, namely the Caribbean. Being of Latin American descent, this work deeply resonates with me and captures my experience. I can see this photo and feel like I have been in this kitchen, I know this tile, this sink. I have seen this view while looking outside of my parents’ kitchen window. To be in parts of Latin America is to deal with the contradiction of being amongst some of the most beautiful natural sights and smells, eating amazing fruits I can only name in Spanish, all the while contending with extreme levels of poverty. In Gregory-Rivera’s case specifically, seeing this paradise in shambles due to the lack of government response on a local level, and as a subject of colonization by the US Empire.

This photograph demonstrates 3 elements we discussed in class: a frame within a frame, figure to ground, and contrast of light and dark. These three elements all work in conjunction to highlight the palms in the center of the photo. The window acts as a frame; the contrast draws our eyes to the plants outside the window. Nature is the subject, this ever-present force and reality for Puerto Ricans, whom inhabit this small, precarious island.

1 Comment

  1. rmichals

    You effectively connect your experience to the photo to open up its meaning. The contrast of the inside and the outside in the image is as you state at the heart of what Gregory-Rivera is trying to show here. The inside feels sad and the outside foreboding and impenetrable.

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