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La Liga de Las Americas

Not Enough Space: 25 years from behind prison bars

CLEVELAND: “Not Enough Space: 25 years from behind prison bars,” is part of a traveling art exhibit appearing in Cleveland, that began on November 16, 2006.

The exhibit runs through Dec. 2, 2006 and features the works of Oscar López Rivera and Carlos Alberto Torres, two Puerto Rican political prisoners who have used art to express themselves during their more than 25-year incarceration. Alejandrina Torres, the stepmother of Torres, was also part of the opening of the exhibit.

As part of the opening of the exhibit Dr. Efrén Rivera Ramos, Dean and Professor of Law at the University of Puerto Rico School of Law, spoke at the City Club of Cleveland on Friday, Nov. 17.

Painting of Frida Kaylo
by Carlos Alberto Torres

The exhibit is being shown at the United Church of Christ, 700 Prospect Avenue. Regular show hours are Monday through Thursday from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m., and Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. For the latest schedule of events, consult the website at www.tri-c.edu/newspace.htm or call (2l6) 987-4420.

About the Artists: López Rivera and Torres are serving long prison terms for acts and beliefs in favor of Puerto Rican independence. From 1987 to 1999, López Rivera was locked in his cell for 23 hours per day. Their art has helped both of them to maintain their dignity and hope in the face of these harsh and inhuman conditions.

Torres writes, “I learned ...to seek out and cultivate skills that would permit creative self-expression. I would transform my physical captivity into a time for learning, productive accomplishments and moral victory...My strong interest in natural history, archeology, and the history and life of Puerto Rico also influences the subjects I choose when developing a piece.”

Similarly, López Rivera reflects, “[I]n Marion and (Florence),…where I started to paint...both my imagination and memory were under attack... I needed to use colors in order to counter the effects of being locked down in a 6' by 9' cell, 23 hours per day, without access to fresh air, natural light and the colors found in nature.

“Only once a week was I allowed to go to the yard for a period of 2 hours, and see a bit of nature's wonders. Painting helped me ... pay attention to things I took for granted before, for example, finding a green blade of grass in the winter or spotting butterflies, grasshoppers or a deer in the spring or summer.”

During their time in prison both individuals have discovered that art allows self-expression and that creating art is a liberating experience. They use their time to educate themselves in various types of art techniques such as pastel, acrylic, oil paintings, collages and ceramics. Their paintings include portraits, landscapes, and still life.

The exhibit displays human sensibility, love, solidarity and optimism. It represents self determination and interest in developing or broadening one's horizons despite restrictive conditions. The exhibit portrays art as a means of communication and expression.

SUMMARY: Friday, Nov. 17 through Saturday, Dec. 2

Not Enough Space: 25 Years From Behind Prison Bars: Oscar López Rivera and Carlos Alberto Torres: An Exhibition Commemorating the 25th Anniversary of their Political Incarceration Tri-C is a host of this national artwork currently touring the United States, Latin America, and Canada. Que Ondee Sola has collaborated with the National Boricua Human Rights Network to document artwork, paintings, and ceramics that carry a message of art and resistance. The artists are Puerto Rican revolutionaries who have served 25 years in prison. For more information call 216-987-4804 or visit www.boricuahumanrights.org or http://www.tri-c.cc.oh.us/hispanic/calendar/november.htm





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