Guariquen: images & words Rican/structed

Juan Sanchez American
Printer Robert Blackburn Printmaking Workshop
Publisher Exit Art/The First World

On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 690

Juan Sánchez utilizes a variety of printmaking techniques and materials as well as collage and handwritten messages in Guariquen: images & words Rican/structed. The complexity of the prints mirrors that of his experience as a Puerto Rican independentista (one who supports Puerto Rican independence) living in New York, where he was also born and raised. Both his titles and imagery address the island’s ongoing legacy of colonialism and its impact on New York’s diasporic community. To create the works, Sánchez combines an array of elements—from photographs, drawings, and handwritten poems to images of religious icons, the Puerto Rican flag, and Taíno petroglyphs—with vibrantly colored lithographs.

Resembling scrapbook pages, the prints also contain autobiographical features, including personal photographs of Sánchez’s family and community as well as written passages, such as one that pays homage to his mother. The portfolio title is likewise composed of layered references. Guariquen means "come look, come see" in the language of the Taíno, Indigenous peoples who lived in the Caribbean before being decimated by Spanish colonialism, while Rican/structed evokes salsa musician Ray Barretto’s concept of Rican/struction. Here, Sánchez’s term can be read as alluding both to the construction of prints from images and words that conjure Puerto Rican and personal history and to the resilience of Puerto Rican people.

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