Hurricane Maria struck Puerto Rico on September 20, 2017 with torrential rains and sustained winds of 155 miles per hour. Over a period of 30 hours Maria destroyed much of the island of 3.3 million inhabitants and became the worst natural disaster to strike Puerto Rico in modern times.
Featuring: Erika P. Rodriguez
United Photo Industries & Latin American Foto Festival
Cynthia Rivera and Mike Kamber
Hurricane Maria struck Puerto Rico on September 20, 2017 with torrential rains and sustained winds of 155 miles per hour. Over a period of 30 hours Maria destroyed much of the island of 3.3 million inhabitants and became the worst natural disaster to strike Puerto Rico in modern times. The storm knocked out power and communications, closed schools and hospitals, and created a mass exodus from the island. In the months following Maria’s destruction, as many as 2,975 residents are estimated to have died as a result of the storm according to a recent report by George Washington University. The official death toll remains at 64. More than eleven months after Hurricane Maria, some of Puerto Ricans are still living without power or water. The work of Erika P. Rodríguez, a native Puerto Rican, sheds light on the destruction from this historic catastrophe and highlights the perseverance and courage of those that remain, even as they struggle to carry on with their lives.
“The Oldest Colony” is a meditation on the Puerto Rican identity as a product of the island’s political relationship with the United States as an unincorporated territory, and now as it morphs with the economic crisis and hurricane Maria’s aftermath.
Born in the late 80s, I was raised between metropolitan city of San Juan and the green mountains of Puerto Rico. In 2009 I took a oneway plane to California to get a degree in Visual Journalism from Brooks Institute. After six years in the Golden State I relocated from Los Angeles to Puerto Rico, following my heart to focus on long-term projects about the underrepresented area of the Caribbean.
Being from a place that is culturally Latin American, but politically a territory of the United States, has shaped my interest as a documentary photographer to explore the topics of community and identity. After hurricane Maria ravaged the Caribbean, I was one of the lead photographers covering the aftermath for the international media.
Currently based in San Juan, P.R., I cover and live the Puerto Rican reality, its economic crisis, its slow recovery from disaster and its colonial condition. My work has appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, and CNN, among others.
About United Photo Industries
United Photo Industries is a New York based non-profit organization that works to promote a wider understanding and increased access to the art of photography.
Since its founding in 2011, UPI has rapidly solidified its position in the public art landscape by continuing to showcase thought-provoking, challenging, and exceptional photography from across the globe. In its first 6 years, UPI has had the opportunity to present the work of more than 2,500 visual artists in gallery exhibitions and public art installations worldwide. Proudly devoted to cultivating strategic partnerships, creative collaborations, and community spirit, we have approached our goal of cultivating a wide, diverse audience for powerful photographic narratives with unrelenting zeal, working closely with photo festivals, city agencies, and other nonprofit organizations across the globe to create new exhibition opportunities — and we are only getting started!
About the Bronx Documentary Center
The Bronx Documentary Center (BDC) is a non-profit gallery and educational space. Through exhibitions, screenings, and public programming, we show the work of internationally-renowned and emerging photographers and filmmakers who are dealing with the themes that guide the BDC: justice, education, community-building, and positive social change. We also provide free education programs for middle and high school students as well as a professional education program for historically underrepresented adult Bronx-based photographers. This program provides opportunities for professional development and skills training in photojournalism, filmmaking and documentary photography.