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August 1, 2018

Northwestern University Initiative to Help Puerto Rico Relaunch Arts Programs Following Devastation from Hurricanes

EVANSTON, ILLINOIS—Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois, is launching an initiative that aims to help Puerto Rican artists revive the island’s cultural landscape following the extensive devastation caused by Hurricanes Maria and Irma in 2017. The two-year project is made possible with a $500,000 grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

Beginning in August with a professional development retreat at the Museo de Arte Contemporáno in San Juan, the initiative will invite ten emerging artists—Alejandra Martorell, Mickey Negrón, Kairiana Nuñez-Santalíz, Pó Rodill, Awilda Rodriguez-Lora, Edgardo Rodriguez, Felix Rodriguez-Rosa, Llaima Sanfriorenzo, Noemi Segarra, and Lionel Villahermosa—to attend training sessions, artist talks, and workshops that will cover a range of topics including how to build a portfolio and sustain their artistic practices.

The artists will be also be paired with ten mentors who will advise them throughout the program. The mentors are Eduardo Alegría, Petra Bravo, Teresa Hernández, Karen Langevin, Nibia Pastrana-Santiago, Chemi Rosado-Seijo, Gisela Rosario-Ramos, Awilda Sterling, Bernat Tort, and Viveca Vázquez.

Commenting on the initiative, Barbara O’Keefe, dean of the School of Communication at Northwestern said, “We have a very strong commitment to interdisciplinary and community-based art enterprises, and that makes our university an ideal hub where artists from Puerto Rico and scholars from across the US can come together to formulate appropriate ways to stabilize and preserve artistic practices. We hope this project will not only aid the artists and cultural institutions currently working in Puerto Rico, but also prepare us to support any creative community that is struggling with environmental and climate challenges.”

Spearheading the initiative, which also includes artistic residencies at Northwestern and other colleges and universities as well as a commissioned project in Puerto Rico, is Ramón H. Rivera-Servera, a professor of performance studies.

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