I was born in Puerto Rico raised in the Bronx…lived in the Netherlands, France, and in all the places I have been I have not found a place that has been so welcoming and real then Stoke. It is a hidden gem waiting to be rediscovered. I have not shown my work since 2008, and I was asked to collaborate with Khadijah Sahrauoi to explore and deliver an emotional response to the ramifications of depression. We had to search real deep within ourselves to expose our insides and share with our world. It was difficult and easy at the same time because we had to allow ourselves to reveal our vulnerable selves. But that is it! We shove our feelings under the table hoping no one will judge us but what happens we go on a lonely journey. We all do it, and we all hope no one notices it.
Gallery 116 located at 116 Church Street in Stoke on Trent allowed us to reveal what depression looks like through photographs, paintings, and video. It has been well received, and our show will be up until 12 March. Darren Washington, founder of Gallery 116 has a vision for Stoke. His vision is to transform Stoke from an unused, unnoticed small town into a cultural hub where the arts can thrive and flourish. Washington is committed to help this cultural oasis grow that would include the contributions from all of Stoke not only from a privileged few.
I hope that the city of Stoke will acknowledge Washington’s commitment to elevate Stoke, but what is needed is the backing of the Stoke government. He made it happened independently. It is up to the City to help him make Stoke succeed as the cultural hub of Stoke on Trent.
I have visited Stoke three times, and I truly can say I love Stoke and I want others to see what I see.