Christopher Soto, Puerto Rico, 1986, Resilient II: Struggle [Coffee Plant] (2022), Mixed Media, 100 x 85 cm
Time stood achingly still in the wake of the hurricane’s rage. The trees no longer had leaves to translate the stories of the wind; this silence was punctuated only by the anguished exclamations of a people in waiting; they waited, and waited… for food, for water, for electricity, for medical aid, for shelter. For many, it did not come; their loved ones were forced to return them to the earth in homemade graves, and the souls of an abandoned people served as melancholy nutrients for a forgotten soil. Some communities were able to receive aid while others remained forgotten and disconnected from the rest of the world; they all watched with the bitter taste of indignation in their mouths as the mainland granted swift and coordinated aid to other states in response to other disasters. As they watched and waited, the bodies broken by the negligence of a system that did not value its people returned to the earth.
Look Closer: The gradient colors of leaves in this piece serve as an acknowledgement of the disparity in recovery rates and aid relief town by town. Some were able to receive aid quickly, and for others it never came. Reasons for this disparity vary from infrastructure, breakdowns in supply chains and roads made impassable, to corruption that ran rampant at local and federal levels.