This project is partly a retrospective of Ricky Flores’ work as well as work produced exclusively for M.S./P.S. 206. Twenty-six silver gelatin prints hang in the vestibule of the auditorium of the school. There are three additional prints hanging in the office of the school. The installation also includes a statement by the artist called License to Dream;
License to Dream is not a bureaucratic process that one needs to apply in order to do. It’s an irrevocable human right, received on the day of our births, that lasts the rest of our lives.
License to Dream is the right to build a better tomorrow, to ask questions that will define boundaries and to seek ways to surpass them. It’s the right to not be limited by what history and society have imposed upon us, but to challenge those constraints to the best of our abilities, to redefine those limits, to go beyond them.
License to Dream grants us the right to question the injustices and inequalities of this world. It’s the right to challenge those things that seek to take away our human rights. It is the right to challenge those who would teach hate and destruction of those things that are dear to us in our homes and in our communities. It is the right to demand the best of ourselves and of others so that we will not repeat the mistakes of those that have gone on before us.
License to Dream is the right to love one another to the best of our abilities, to cherish life for what it is, a precious gift to be shared with those around you during that brief span of time we call a lifetime.
License to Dream is simply the right to achieve our dreams…..
About the Artist…
Ricky Flores was born in New York City. In 1980, with the inheritance he received after the death of his father in his senior year of high school, he bought a 35mm camera. After leaving high school, he lived in Puerto Rico for a year. Learning how to use a camera provided him with an avenue to explore his native culture and history. In 1981, he attended Empire State College, where he began formalized training in photojournalism, and received a degree in 1985. During his college years, he began to develop some socio-political views that profoundly affected his photography. Several projects were generated directly from those views, including Ser Puertorriqueno, an extensive exploration of racism in New York City. He was also able to freelance for various publications, including the Village Voice and the New York Times. Ricky Flores is currently a staff photographer for Gannett Suburban Newspapers.
The Percent for Art commission allowed me to consolidate previous work into a cohesive direction providing a platform to produce additional work for the final installation at M.S./P.S. 206. At the time of the commission, I was one of the first Puerto Ricans to receive one, and one of the first to be granted under the newly formed School Construction Authority. The primary challenge was to integrate work of a highly volatile nature, such as racism in New York City, with the day-to-day life in a positive framework. The commission gave me the time and the leeway to consolidate all the various views that I had developed and focus them for a specific purpose, which was the completion of the License to Dream project in the M.S./P.S. project. I think what I achieved with the License to Dream project located children in history and more importantly, the importance of their role in creating it. Various images in the show illustrate that, such as children welcoming Nelson Mandela to New York City, or the peaceful student demonstration held in New York after the Rodney King verdict. It also focused on day-to-day life in the city and some of the experiences that come with it. — Flores, 1997