In recognition of National Hispanic Heritage Month (September 15-October 15, 2019), this week’s Object Of The Day posts celebrate Latinx designers’ works in the collection.
The Puerto Rican Commission for the Celebration of the Year 2000 in San Juan organized the publication of La Ciudad Infinita: Versiones de San Juan. The book highlights the abundant creativity, culture, and tradition found in Puerto Rico’s capital by showcasing the work of thirty Puerto Rican artists and writers. The introduction describes San Juan’s natural beauty enriched by colorful birds, bay views, and the scent of coffee.The book celebrates the historic identity before its transformation by colonial rule; it reimagines a future for citizens that cherish the city of San Juan. “The city lives aghast, the city sleeps insecure like all cities, but shelters and loves the one who endures and recreates, who always accompanies her. ”
La Ciudad Infinita: Versiones de San Juan pays tribute to San Juan by combining lithography and poetry as the city entered a new century, and its citizens continued to embrace Puerto Rico’s complex history. The publication’s focus on Puerto Rican identity is demonstrated by artists and writers including, Luis Alonso, Carlos Dávila Rinaldi, María Antonia Ordoñez, Vanessa Droz, and Fernando Cros.
One homage to Puerto Rican heritage, La ciudad Murada by Antonio Maldonado (1920-2006) illustrates an entry point to San Juan as an ancient city. Maldonado addresses Puerto Rico’s history as it builds on the foundation of the old city with steel beams to create a modern city that is continually evolving. Maldonado sought to establish Puerto Rican identity through visual culture. Furthering his commitment to Puerto Rican heritage, Maldonado co-founded the Center for Puerto Rican Art in 1950 and became a vocal figure in the establishment of the San Sebastián Street Festival in Old San Juan during the 1970’s. Maldonado’s work addresses Puerto Rican culture through themes of colonial exploitation, urbanization, and political relations with the United States. To celebrate Puerto Rico, the three hundred copies of La Ciudad Infinita: Versiones de San Juan produced were donated to museums and libraries around the globe, including the Cooper Hewitt, National Design Library.
Erica M. Schaumberg is a graduate student in the History of Design and Curatorial Studies program offered jointly by Cooper Hewitt and Parsons School of Design. She is also a fellow at the Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Library.