Rosa Luisa Márquez: Humanist of the Year 2022

Tatiana Pérez Rivera (El Nuevo Día) reports on the honor bestowed on theater artist Rosa Luisa Márquez. She has been chosen by the Puerto Rican Foundation for the Humanities as Humanist of the Year 2022. Pérez Rivera says, “She joins the distinguished group of recipients [selected] since 1979 by the Puerto Rican Foundation for the Humanities.”

Artist Rosa Luisa Márquez’s habitat has enough visual stimuli to wake up even the most distracted. There are masks, paintings, art tests, portraits, many books, and even an old phone that could only connect to the operator. Each object occupies its place in the orderly space and in the gaze of the theatrical artist, so do not doubt that they can provide the festive spark of the imagination in days of elusive ideas.

Those moments of low creativity cannot be very frequent, and her prolific career bears witness to this. For this reason, she will exalt her solid commitment to dramaturgy: Rosa Luisa Márquez is the 2022 Humanist of the Year distinguished by the Puerto Rican Foundation for the Humanities [Fundación Puertorriqueña de las Humanidades (FPH)].

“It’s a prize with a prize and they will give me this tribute; but it doesn’t come for free, I have to respond with another tribute, so they have had me in an intensely creative phase for the last three months,” she says enthusiastically, alluding to “Rosa,” the show with which she will receive the distinction on February 26.

Márquez has always had an affinity with the arts and perhaps she was a humanist without knowing the full scope of the term. She has been a theater professor for 32 years in the Department of Humanities, at the University of Puerto Rico-Río Piedras, and she has dedicated more than four decades to theatrical creation. Today, she can—perhaps—define what it means to be a humanist.

“I have asked myself [that question] many times. How is a human being in this society? Where does that concept come from and how inhuman are we, humans? I am among all those waters reflecting a bit. I feel like every time there is a different spin,” she underlines.

“Humanity, in the university context, is what is positive, it is a reflection on the arts. However, we are very inhuman, and you have to think of humanity in its positive and negative phases. Right now, we are suffering the consequences of a destructive humanity. The term serves as an umbrella for me to think about in many [different] ways. The humanities are a great rainbow, but the rainbow also carries storms that we may go through with an umbrella.” Under the umbrella, multiple possibilities coexist and “the humanities offer answers, but they also present questions, and that is what is interesting.”

“You say to yourself: ‘What do I want to talk about?’ If I am in a space, how does it determine what I can do in it, how the people who accompany me contribute to what I want to say. In the case of the theater, the spectators release a particular energy so that I can continue to dialogue with them. The practice itself produces reflection,” she expounds. [. . .]

Excerpts translated by Ivette Romero. For full article, in Spanish, see

[Photo above by Ramon “Tonito” Zayas.]

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