Hospital de los Sensitivos, 2014, silkscreen on vellum, 18" x 18" each
Hospital de Los Sensitivos is a set of three double sided silkscreen prints on vellum created for an exhibition at the Clemente Soto Velez Cultural Center, located in the Lower East Side of Manhattan. The piece encapsulates the dual functions of the center: as a memorial for the Puerto Rican poet and activist Clemente Soto Velez and as a community art space.
The three prints of Hospital de los Sensitivos are hung at a small distance from the wall, so that both sides of the print are equally visible. The red cruciform shape on the back side of each print is taken from the flag of the separatist Puerto Rican Nationalist Party, of which Clemente Soto Velez was a member. The normally white cross is printed in red, evoking a medical symbol such as that of the Red Cross logo.
Printed on the front-facing side of each piece of semi-transparent vellum are excerpts taken from artist applications for studio space in the Center. These excerpts bemoan the lack of affordable space in the rapidly gentrifying Lower East Side of Manhattan, reflect on the changes they have witnessed in their neighborhood, and in often pleading terms appeal for studio space at the Center.
The past and the present of the Clemente Soto Velez Cultural Center come together in overlaying of these two sides. The title “Hospital de los Sensitivos” similarly blends evocations of past and present. The title comes from the name of an avant-garde literary group in the 1920s, of which Soto Velez was a member. This group and its members were sympathetic with the Puerto Rican Nationalist Party. The name, which translates to “Hospital for the Sensitive,” when taken with the piece’s imagery of the red cross and words of despair, takes on a different, more literal meaning.
Hospital de Los Sensitivos visualizes the Clemente Soto Velez Cultural Center as a “Hospital for the Sensitive”–for those artists who seek a cure within the walls of the Center from the ravages of gentrification and the anguish of creative pursuits.