It was summer some years ago when, across my studio window, I caught a glance of the brown arms of an elderly woman hanging clothes and sheets over her windowsill. I took out my phone and recorded the different fabrics being carried by the wind. It brought to mind images of Abuela in Dominican Republic hanging out sheets to dry in the backyard. I could remember her saying “tiende la ropa que va a llover!” (“hang the clothes before it rains!”), and we would rush to hang clothes on furniture and household objects. Seeing it now in New York City, this mental image seemed to collapse the historical time and geographical distance travelled from the so called third world to the first world. It was dizzying and unsettling.
Around the same time I started collecting hand-me-down artifacts donated to a second-hand shop around the corner from my studio. Similarly, the image of hand-me-down objects seemed to capture for me a quintessential immigrant ethic of make-do resourcefulness. These and other images come together in my recent work as vehicles to contemplate migration, a longing for home and the objects that trace diasporas across lands.
Dexter Ciprian (b. 1984), he/him, is a Dominican-American visual artist living and working in The Bronx, NY. His work explores migration, diaspora and mythology and has been exhibited nationally at Arlington Arts Center (Arlington, VA); C24 Gallery (NY); Field Projects (NY); Black and White Gallery (Brooklyn); The Bronx Museum of the Arts (The Bronx); The Vazquez Gallery (Brooklyn); Myrtle Light Studios (Brooklyn); and The Angel Orensanz Foundation (NY). He is the recipient of several awards and residencies including The Bronx Museum Block Gallery Residency (2020), Vermont Studio Center Residency (2019), Portal: Governors Island Residency (2019), AIM Fellowship at The Bronx Museum of the Arts (2015), and the 2011 BRIO award from the Bronx Council on the Arts. His work has appeared or been reviewed in Hyperallergic, The New York Times, and ArtNet Magazine, and published in Architecture Inserted (W. W. Norton & Co., 2012). He is the co-director of OPEN DOORS, an arts and justice initiative which supports the creativity and leadership of Black and Latinx people who use wheelchairs and inspires action for safer more just communities. He holds an M.Arch from the Yale School of Architecture (2009), and a B.S. from the University at Buffalo (2006).