Reflejos features Erika Morillo, and Adeline Lulo, previous winners of the En Foco Photography Fellowship. The exhibition explores and highlights the multifaceted nature of diasporic cultures. Focusing on the Dominican experience, told and nurtured by femmes. With each artist working in different ways to document, uplift, and celebrate their families, their communities, and their cultural legacies. Curated by Oscar J. Rivera, and hosted in collaboration with the Romanesque Revival Row House Gallery located in the historic Mott Haven district in the South Bronx.
Curator, Oscar J Rivera, on Reflejos.
Reflejos: Erika Morillo & Adeline Lulo
Curated by Oscar J Rivera
Romanesque Revival Row House Gallery
June 11- July 13, 2022*
Reflejos in Spanish translates to “Reflections,” in photography, reflections are purposeful, often messages from the artists engaging with the viewers directly by offering alternate perspectives and interpretations. In writing, reflections are an opportunity to analyze experiences, search deeper and respond to critical moments. The artists in Reflejos, Adeline Lulo and Erika Morillo, use the language of photography to reflect on their experiences as Dominican women, working visually to document, celebrate, and uplift their families, communities, and cultural legacies.
Adeline Lulo’s series Si Dios Quiere (If God is Willing), explores Lulo’s relationship to the Dominican Republic. Like many other New York Dominicans, Lulo’s childhood was split between the island and the boroughs. This dichotomy of her experiences drives the work and imbues the imagery with a sense of warmth and comfort. Lulo began documenting her family and community in 2013, after returning to the Dominican Republic after many years as an adult.
During this visit, Lulo noticed the critical lack of representation for Dominicans and felt compelled to document her community. Si Dios Quiere offers a crucial look into the experiences of Dominicans, many of which are living below the poverty line, with a lack of resources and limited infrastructure or governmental oversight. Yet, despite these concerns, the people persevere. The communities rely on themselves, and families find ways to survive. The images presented in Reflejos highlight the community’s resolve, they engage with the realities of living in the Caribbean, and force the viewers to contend with their knowledge of current social, economic, and political challenges faced by Dominicans. Si Dios Quiere is a hopeful response to these concerns, a prayer for better times.
Erika Morillo’s series Umbral explores her relationship with her son. Umbral translates to a gateway, a portal, or the first step towards something. As the viewer, we watch as Morillo’s son grows, and through the black and white imagery, we witness Morillo’s attempts to create a nurturing space for her child. Combating her notions and experiences as both a child and now a mother. Morillo uses umbral to navigate the fantasy of an idealized childhood for herself and her children, and honor her heritage and the diasporic experiences faced by being Dominican in the States. Accurately described by the title, the images in Umbral function as portals into the dynamic Morillo has built with her family. Many of the images include the suggestion of Morillo’s presence, a slice of legs in one, and a shadow in another These moments highlight the mothers guidance , and the balance of two energies revolving around each other.
The Virtual exhibition also features a selection of images from Morillo’s series Motherland, which like Umbral, explores the artist’s relationship to motherhood, by exploring Morillo’s relationship with her mother. These images use projections to illustrate the turbulent bond, they are an attempt to recontextualize the past and reinterpret Morillo’s experiences to create a narrative that reconciles the relationship between mother and daughter. Creating a new narrative that embraces what might have been, offers guidance to shape what’s to come, and honors Morrilo’s lineage, legacy. and heritage.
The work featured in Reflejos is visually contrasting. Morillo’s quiet, dreamy black and white images are juxtaposed against the bright pastels of Caribbean living documented in Lulo’s Si Dios Quiere, offering unique perspectives into a vast and ever-growing cultural landscape of the Dominican Republic and the experiences of those connected to the island. Si Dios Quiere highlights the experiences on the island, not defined by challenges, but instead celebrates the people, the families, and communities bonded by heritage, culture, and duty. Umbral reflects on the artist’s personal and diasporic connections to her heritage, using her lineage and motherhood to explore family dynamics, and ultimately, the placelessness and longing for home that many Dominicans living in the States experience.
Reflejos examines the vast and ever-growing cultural landscape of the Dominican Republic as diasporic Dominicans grapple with their relationships to their homeland, their families, and their communities on the island and beyond.
En Foco is supported in part with public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, in partnership with the City Council, National Endowment for the Arts, New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Kathy Hochul and the New York State Legislature, BronxCare Health System, The Joy of Giving Something, Inc., Rockefeller Brothers Fund Culpeper Arts and Culture, New York Community Trust Mosaic Network & Fund the Phillip and Edith Leonian Foundation, Ford Foundation, The Lily Auchincloss Foundation, Mertz Gilmore Foundation, Jerome Foundation, and Aguado-Pavlick Arts Fund.