Roxana PÃ©rez-MÃ©ndezâs new installation at Taller PuertorriqueÃ±o draws on the history of Puerto Rico and the Puerto Rican community of Philadelphia. With research from Tallerâs archives and other sources, PÃ©rez-MÃ©ndezâs artwork wryly comments on the construction and perception of Puerto Rican identity. With Taller PuertorriqueÃ±o as the backdrop, her video productionsÂ incorporate imagery of Puerto Rican migration, TaÃno ritual dances, and rural depictions of life and landscape.
The title of the exhibition is a reference to the Spanish saying, Quien a buen Ã¡rbol se arrima, buena sombra lo cobija. This translates to, âHe who takes shelter under a great tree gets the best shade,â meaning those who benefit most in life are those who associate with something larger than themselvesâin this case, the artist refers to Taller.
Some of her productions use a technique called âPepperâs Ghostâ to create a series of hologram-like illusions on dioramic scenes placed around the gallery. Scientist John Henry Pepper developed this technique in the mid-1800s using angled mirrors and reflective transparent surfaces. The method simulates a ghost-like hologram to the viewer.
PÃ©rez-MÃ©ndez often uses the illusions in her installation work to merge the contemporary with the traditional, responding to the capricious nature of identity.
About the artist
Roxana PÃ©rez-MÃ©ndez (b. 1976) is a video performance and installation artist who creates work about the arbitrary nature of contemporary identity through the lens of her own experiences as a Puerto Rican woman.PÃ©rez-MÃ©ndez is based in Philadelphia and has exhibited widely including but not limited to the Universidad de Sagrado CorazÃ³n (San Juan, Puerto Rico), Taller PuertoriqueÃ±o, (Philadelphia), Times Museum (Guangzhou, China), the North Carolina Museum of Art (Raleigh, NC), the Morris Gallery at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts (Philadelphia), the Elizabeth Foundation of the Arts (NY, NY), the Arlington Arts Center (Arlington, VA), the Fleisher-Ollman Gallery (Philadelphia). She was a finalist for both the Joan Mitchell Award and the Pew Fellowship in the Arts in 2006. As a Philadelphia based artist, she is also an artist/member of the collective Vox Populi Gallery in Philadelphia from 2005 to 2013. PÃ©rez-MÃ©ndez received her BFA from The Ohio State University, her MFA from the Tyler School of Art and attended the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture in 2003.
*Pictured at the top, Roxana PÃ©rez-MÃ©ndez, Finca Del Guaraguao, 2017 (detail)