Rhynna M Santos
Lizzy Alejandro

Reflections on Indigeneity in the Bronx reflects on the experiences of those who practice Taíno traditions of the indigenous Caribbean inhabitants. The Bronx Women’s Photo Collective exposes this complicated past, manifested through three distinct photographic styles: fantastic realism, fine art, and documentary. Each style uncovers a story spanning conquest, colonialism, and current events.

Puerto Rican Taíno descendants migrated to the United States mainland after the passage of the Jones Act in 1917 that granted them citizenship. Approximately 5.8 million Puerto Ricans live in the U.S., nearly twice the number who live on the island. These transplants, including about 300,000 Bronx residents, maintain their ancestral Taíno roots through workshops and native gatherings. Our photographic exploration of these connections weaves together elements of an unseen past, brutal history, and modern-day struggle for identity and connection.

Our work is more relevant than ever. Hurricane Maria in 2017 and the earthquakes of 2020 hastened an exodus from the island. The rate of displacement is unprecedented, as is the threat of cultural heritage erasure. Recognizing and elevating the resilience of people seeking to preserve Taíno traditions is critical to strengthening our connections to our heritage and island.

Artist Bios

  • Lizzy Alejandro

    Lizzy Alejandro is a Bronx-born second generation Puerto Rican American. Her work explores themes of identity, and challenges notions of the status quo.

    Alejandro’s work has been exhibited at Fordham University, Taller Boricua Gallery, Lehman College Art Gallery, Bronx Art Space, Andrew Freedman Home, Lincoln Hospital, the Bronx Latin American Art Biennial, Empty Set Gallery, Longwood Art Gallery, El Barrio’s Artspace PS109 and Riverfront Art Gallery.

    She has been included in publications such as MIA Magazine, The Bronx Artist Documentary Project and in the Nueva Luz Photographic Journal 2016, Volume 20, entitled Living Latina: The Bronx Women’s Photo Collective.

    Alejandro received her MFA in Digital Media from Lehman College in 2019.

  • Sandra Ayala

    Sandra Ayala is a Puerto Rican photographer from the South Bronx. As a self-taught photographer, she uses her photography to tell complex stories that weave together fantasy and imagination.

    Ayala has been exhibited in Living Latina, Femme Nation and the Latin American Art Triennial at Taller Boricua. Her solo shows include Beautiful Innocence at Gallery 505 and Story Time at the Edgar Allen Poe Visitor’s Center. In 2016, her images were featured as part of the Bronx Women’s Photo Collective group issue in En Foco’s Nueva Luz.

    Ayala is a member of the Bronx Women’s Photo Collective. She attended Eugenio Maria De Hostos Community College and earned a degree in nursing in 2001.

  • Rhynna M. Santos

    Rhynna M. Santos

    Rhynna M. Santos is a Puerto Rico-born photographer living and working in the Bronx.  Santos’s art captures the beautiful, painful, funny, and endlessly complex lives and perspectives of people of color in her community.

    In 2019, Santos was featured for the third time by the New York Times, which in 2018 also profiled her show #papielmaestro, a documentary exploration of the life of her father, jazz great, Ray Santos. Later that same year, Santos was chosen as an En Foco Fellow and her work exploring the lives of Latina Muslims was exhibited at Andrew Freedman Home and featured in Nueva Luz Photographic Journal. She was also recognized as a Lit List finalist by the Authority Collective. Her work has been featured in Jerome Avenue Workers Project 2015, Living Latina 2016, Photoville 2018 and Bronx Now 2018.

    Santos is the founder of the Bronx Women’s Photo Collective, curator for the Instagram feed Everyday Bronx and member of the Bronx Photo League at the Bronx Documentary Center.

    Santos earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Women’s Studies from UCLA in 2007 and has lived and worked in Spain, where she placed in her first photography competition, PhotoEspaña.


  • The Bronx Women’s Photo Collective

    The Bronx Women’s Photo Collective

    The Bronx Women’s Photo Collective is an organization by and for Bronx photographers. It is dedicated to both activism and creativity. The activism centers on networking and mentoring among womxn of color whose voices are too often disregarded in artistic and political circles. The creative focus involves producing individual and collective works that document the lives, experiences, and perspectives of the people of the Bronx.

  • Photoville


    Photoville is a New York-based non-profit organization that works to promote a wider understanding and increased access to the art of photography and visual storytelling by producing a free annual festival, amplifying impactful narratives, and connecting artists to a wide global audience by activating accessible public spaces via large scale exhibitions.

    Proudly devoted to cultivating strategic partnerships and creative collaborations with community spirit, UPI approaches its mission of cultivating a wide, diverse audience for powerful photographic narratives by working closely with visual artists, city agencies, nonprofit organizations and educators worldwide to create new exhibition and public art opportunities that showcase thought-provoking, challenging, and exceptional photography. For more information about Photoville visit,

  • NYC Parks

    NYC Parks

    NYC Parks is the steward of more than 30,000 acres of land — 14 percent of New York City — including more than 5,000 individual properties ranging from Coney Island Beach and Central Park to community gardens  and Greenstreets. We operate more than 800 athletic fields and nearly 1,000 playgrounds, 1,800 basketball courts, 550 tennis courts, 65 public pools, 51 recreational facilities, 15 nature centers, 14 golf courses, and 14 miles of beaches. We care for 1,200 monuments and 23 historic house museums. We look after 600,000 street trees, and two million more in parks. We are New York City’s principal providers of recreational and athletic facilities and programs. We are home to free concerts, world-class sports events, and cultural festivals.

Reflections on Indigeneity in the Bronx

 archive : 2022

Featuring: Lizzy Alejandro Sandra Ayala Rhynna M. Santos

Curated by: Rhynna M. Santos

Presented by: The Bronx Women's Photo Collective with Photoville and NYC Parks
  • The Bronx Women’s Photo Collective
  • Photoville
  • NYC Parks
View Location Details Number 52 on the official photoville map Click to download this year's map Van Cortland Park

5920 Broadway
Bronx, NY 10471

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  • Tuesday 6:00 am - 10:00 pm
  • Wednesday 6:00 am - 10:00 pm
  • Thursday 6:00 am - 10:00 pm
  • Friday 6:00 am - 10:00 pm
  • Saturday 6:00 am - 10:00 pm
  • Sunday 6:00 am - 10:00 pm

This website was made possible thanks to the generous support and partnership of Photowings