WASHINGTON HEIGHTS — Eleven women with Caribbean roots aim to explore the conflicts in their own identities in a mixed-media show opening Friday that features a painting of a lynching and a modern take on Leonardo da Vinci's "Last Supper."
The exhibit, “Living In My Skin, En Mi Piel,” at the Rio Penthouse III on 898 St. Nicholas Ave. and 155th Street, will feature a variety of multimedia pieces about women, mostly from the Dominican Republic and Haiti, as they struggle with national culture, gender and beauty, according to the show's organizer, Bronx-native, Yelaine Rodriguez.
The pieces are all about seeing the beauty within those struggles, said Rodriguez, who also curated the show.
“These artists are taking that experience, and turning it around to show that you can learn from it, that you can turn around and show people the beauty of it," she said.
The featured artists include Dulcina Abreu, Fabiola Jean-Louis, Joiri Minaya, Klode, Leslie Jimenez, Melanie Gonzalez, Nadine LaFond, Rejin Leys, Scherezade Garcia and Vladimir Cybil Charlier.
Rodriguez has worked in the arts scene since graduating from Parsons School of Design in 2012 with a degree in fashion design. She said that after working alongside artists in the city as well as in the Dominican Republic, creating this exhibit was a “no-brainer."
“I noticed that a lot of women artists — specifically women of color — don’t have that space to talk all the time,” she said.
Rodriguez said some of the pieces in the show speak directly to the woman of color and what their bodies have gone experienced, whether “economically and politically” throughout history.
In Jean-Louis' "Rest in Piece," a figurine of a black man hanged from a tree is contained within a frame positioned over the stomach of a white dress draped in paper flowers, pearls and chains.
“It’s very powerful piece, once you pay attention to details, seeing the black body exposed," she said.
Gonzalez’s piece, entitled “Ghetto Mary Last Supper,” shows the experience of a Dominican family, with the mother — the matriarch — standing beside her son, who sits before a setting similar to Leonardo’s popular religious painting.
The piece plays on the stereotypes within the Dominican culture, and the role of the woman as a mother, wife and “probably the one that takes cares of the family,” Rodriguez said.
The "Living In My Skin" opening reception will take place on Friday, Aug. 5, from 6:00 p.m., with an artist talk on Aug. 12, featuring award-winning author, Edwidge Danticat. The free show runs until Aug. 26.
Rodriguez hopes the show will leave a lasting impact on those who see it.
“I wanted to show people that through the work that’s being displayed, we can embrace our skin and share our stories by having this body of work," Rodriguez said.