Somos La Luz
Updated: Jul 3, 2020
Recently, I had the honor to interview Jorge Rodriguez-Gerada, an amazing Latino artist specializing in large-scale pieces and eco-friendly art mediums. In response to the Covid-19 pandemic, Rodriguez-Gerada has created a memorial piece the size of a parking lot in Corona Park, Queens. The land art piece commemorates the late Dr. Decoo, a Latino physician who lost his life fighting the pandemic in New York City, and doctors on a global scale who are putting their lives at stake to combat the virus that has taken over all of our lives. The following is a transcription of the interview I conducted with Rodriguez-Gerada:
To start out, what medium are you using for this piece?
I’m using household masonry paint, which is cool because they have a version that is very flat, so you get very little reflection, so the colors are still visible even in high sunlight. If I were to use satin or semi-gloss, the whole thing would be washed out. We needed that specific type of paint and actually sold out four Home Depots.
Can you speak about what this piece means to you?
This piece is a homage, and there’s a number of factors to that. One of them is that I chose [Dr. Decoo] specifically from all of the possible protagonists because he was actually about to retire… and he decided to go back [to work to fight Covid-19], and he lost his life. And that’s a whole other level because not everyone would make that same decision. He was a hero.
The second thing is, the reason why it’s here in Queens is because this is one of the epicenters and it’s also one of the places where it’s really disproportionately affecting Latinos. We also wanted to talk about that and the reasons behind that. [We wanted to] talk about all of the minorities that are more affected by [Covid-19] because they’re in jobs that put them in more jeopardy. They’re the ones that run the transit system, they’re the ones that take care at senior residencies, they’re the nurses, the doctors. So, it’s a way to talk about the larger picture because statistics are an awful thing. People hear numbers like twenty-thousand, forty-thousand, hundred-thousand, but they don’t stop to think that each one of those numbers that make that sum is a family member that is lost and families that are grieving. There’s also the fact that there is no place to mourn.
What’s happened is that, under [the U.S.] administration, there’s more racial division than ever before, even to the point where white supremacy and neo-nazis are almost normalized, and no one is creating places for groups of people to come together and mourn in this time of crisis. So we’ve got to take it upon ourselves.
Lastly, is there anything you would want our readers to know or to take away from this piece?
To know that those that are affected that may not be like you, and that you might feel distant from or not have as much empathy as would be nice to have, laugh the same way. Cry the same way. Enjoy the world the same way. And the sense of loss is just as strong. And really, this piece is to bring home a point that we are all part of the human race.
We at Project Angel Island would like to thank Mr. Jorge Rodriguez-Gerada for his time answering these questions for our interview. If you would like to see the Somos La Luz Memorial, visit the parking lot next to the Queens Museum in Flushing Meadows Corona Park.
If you'd like to see more of Rodriguez-Gerada's works, follow him on Instagram @gerada_art
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