A VIRTUAL DISCUSSION
Thursday, July 28 at 4:00 PM ET
San Juan, Puerto Rico.
A vibrant island chain in the Caribbean, a multivocal diaspora on the mainland, a US territory – Puerto Rico holds an extraordinary place in the world, encompassing a variety of stories, experiences, and challenges. For years, the Mellon Foundation has been honored to support artists and scholars, poets and writers, community organizations and institutions of higher learning throughout Puerto Rico and its diaspora.
Join Dr. Elizabeth Alexander (President, Mellon Foundation), Alana Casanova-Burgess (Host and Producer of the WNYC and Futuro Media podcast, La Brega: Stories of the Puerto Rican Experience), Dr. Yarimar Bonilla (Director of the Center for Puerto Rican Studies at Hunter College in New York City), and Daniel Lind-Ramos (Sculptor and Painter) for a discussion about Puerto Rico Now—its powerful multiplicity, its many lessons, and much more.
President, Mellon Foundation
Elizabeth Alexander – decorated poet, educator, memoirist, scholar, and cultural advocate – is president of the Mellon Foundation, the nation’s largest funder in arts and culture, and humanities in higher education. Dr. Alexander has held distinguished professorships at Smith College, Columbia University, and Yale University, where she taught for 15 years and chaired the African American Studies Department. She is Chancellor Emeritus of the Academy of American Poets, a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, serves on the Pulitzer Prize Board, and co-designed the Art for Justice Fund. Notably, Dr. Alexander composed and delivered “Praise Song for the Day” for the 2009 inauguration of President Barack Obama, and is author or co-author of fifteen books. Her book of poems, American Sublime, was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in Poetry in 2006, and her memoir, The Light of the World, was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in Biography in 2015. Her latest book, released in 2022, is The Trayvon Generation.
Host & Producer, La Brega: Stories Of The Puerto Rican Experience
Alana Casanova-Burgess is host and producer of the critically acclaimed podcast, La Brega: Stories of the Puerto Rican Experience. She was previously a reporter and producer for the Peabody award-winning national public radio show On the Media from WNYC Studios, and for The Brian Lehrer Show. She has been producing audio journalism for the past decade, and her work has also been featured in The Guardian, 99% Invisible, Throughline, The New Yorker Radio Hour, Latino USA, and elsewhere. In 2021, she was part of a team that won the Alfred I. duPont–Columbia University Award for Blindspot: Tulsa Burning. In 2018, she was a Livingston Awards finalist for her reporting from the island after Hurricane Maria. She has roots in the Caribbean, Brooklyn, and at the Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism at CUNY.
Dr. Yarimar Bonilla
Director, Center For Puerto Rican Studies, Hunter College
Dr. Yarimar Bonilla, PhD is the director of the Center for Puerto Rican Studies at Hunter College, and a professor in the Department of Africana, Puerto Rican and Latino Studies at Hunter College as well as in the PhD Program in Anthropology at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York.
Dr. Bonilla is a prominent public intellectual and a leading voice on Caribbean and Latinx politics. She is a regular contributor to publications such as El Nuevo Dia, The New York Times, The Nation, and The Washington Post, and is a frequent guest on National Public Radio and news programs such as Democracy Now!
Dr. Bonilla is the author of Non-Sovereign Futures: French Caribbean Politics in the Wake of Disenchantment (University of Chicago Press, 2012) and co-editor of Aftershocks of Disaster: Puerto Rico Before and After the Storm (Haymarket Press, 2019). Her current book project, Shattered Futures, for which she was named a 2018-20 Carnegie Fellow, focuses on the political and social impact of Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico.
Sculptor & Painter
Daniel Lind-Ramos is a sculptor and painter transforming everyday objects into sculptural assemblages that embody the social history, religious rituals, and built and natural environments of his Afro-Puerto Rican community. Born and raised in the city of Loíza, the center of Puerto Rico’s rich, African cultural traditions, he constructs his large-scale sculptures out of materials that activate the collective memories of a place and its people.
Lind-Ramos received a BA (1975) from the University of Puerto Rico and an MA (1980) from New York University. He is a retired senior professor from the University of Puerto Rico, Humacao Campus. His work has been exhibited in solo and group exhibitions at such venues as the Whitney Museum of American Art; The Drawing Center in New York; National Gallery in Washington, DC; Sarasota Art Museum; Marlborough Gallery; Cornell Fine Arts Museum (now known as the Rollins Art Museum) in Orlando, FL; Haus der Kunst, Munich; Art Center Z33 Hasselt, in Belgium; Museo de Arte Contemporáneo de Puerto Rico; Museo de Arte de Puerto Rico; and the Grand Palais in Paris.
Lind-Ramos has received the MacArthur Foundation’s Genius Fellowship Award 2021, USA Artist Fellowship Award 2021, Artsy Vanguard 2020, AFRICA’SOUT! – Joan Mitchell Center residency, and a Joan Mitchell Foundation award.