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In this artist statement, Bibiana Suarez discusses how her work reflects her search for self-identification and the problems of living between two cultures—that of Puerto Rico and the United States—as a self-imposed exile. Suarez also describes the year she arrived in Chicago and the “culture shock” she experienced. Throughout the next decade the artist continued to explore, in metaphoric ways, the place where she exists, which is described as not being Puerto Rico nor Chicago but as her “own island.” She goes on to explain works such as Nostalgia of Returning, White Urchin, Zafra, and other proposals. Suarez’s iconography explores Puerto Rico as a place of longing, a geographical entity, an organic system, and as many other iterations.


This artist statement is a longer version of the one she wrote in April 1991 (see doc. no. 1064446) for In Search of an Island, an exhibition held at Sazama Gallery from September 6 to October 12, 1991. 

The Puerto Rican-born artist Bibiana Suarez has lived in Chicago since 1980, where she received her BFA and MFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Suarez has exhibited widely in the United States and Puerto Rico and has written about bicultural identity, the politics of the colonial relationship of the United States and Puerto Rico, and contemporary art.

Víctor Alejandro Sorell, Gabrielle Toth; Harper Montgomery, Marcela Guerrero, collaborators
Institute for Latino Studies, University of Notre Dame, South Bend, USA
Courtesy of the private archives of Bibiana Suárez, Chicago, IL