En Foco/In Focus: Ricky Flores

En Foco/In Focus: Ricky Flores


This is the first entry in a series of interviews by Jessica Juliao and Collette McGruder, both emerging photographers and CIIS students. They will be interviewing artists whose works are featured in the exhibition En Foco/In Focus, selections from the first permanent photography collection in the country dedicated to U.S.- based artists of Latin American, African, Asian, and Native American heritage. The exhibition opens for the first time on the West Coast on Jan. 22, 2013, at CIIS.

Check out Seis Del Sur  for more information on upcoming show at the Bronx Documentary Center.

Witness to History: The photographers of 9/11

Tuesday, September 6, 2011    Last updated: Wednesday September 28, 2011, 4:46 PM
The Record


“An anonymous man plummeting headfirst toward certain death.

A trail of smoke billowing from two dying skyscrapers.

Three resolute firemen on the edge of a battlefield, hoisting a tattered flag — more than 300 of their fallen brethren buried in the debris behind them.

Ten years ago, on Sept. 11, 2001, the day the World Trade Center towers were attacked and came crashing down, news photographers captured the shocking images that are now etched in our collective memories.”

For more of the article, video and photos click HERE.


My Latino Voice; Seis Del Sur


“Close to 100 people filled the 15th floor conference space on September 29th for the Los Seis del Sur photo exhibit, sponsored by VOCES, the New York Times’s Latino Affinity Group.  The attendees – artists, activists, journalists and leaders in the Latino community – were treated to a slideshow and discussion by Los Seis, six award-winning Boricua photographers (with several Pulitzers among them). The event was part of the New York Times’s Hispanic Heritage Month celebrations.”  -Rosa Alonso for My Latino Voice

The “Dia” Exhibit in The New York Daily News Latino

Puerto Rican Day Parade, 1983

The work of eight Puerto Rican photographers, Frank Espada, Perla de León, David Gonzalez, Joe Conzo, Ricky Flores, Pablo Delano, Máximo Colón, and Francisco Reyes II, will be featured in the Dia exhibition at the New York Photo Festival.  Carolina Gonzalez wrote an advance article on the show in the New York Daily News Latino section.  Four of the eight photographers are members of upcoming 2012 exhibition, Seis Del Sur.

Dia: Curated by Adriana Teresa

New York Photo Festival 2011

The full show can be seen by clicking the above photo.

Photos by George Malave


The FotoVisura Pavilion
Sponsored by The Viso Lizardi Family
Dumbo Arts Center,
111 Front Street (Suite 212)
Dumbo, NY 11201

Cuando yo miro tus ojos
parece que miro al cielo
arropado con estrellas
y cubierto con luceros


Dia exhibition unites eight photographers who documented New York’s Puerto Rican communities from the Lower East Side to the South Bronx during the 1960’s to 1980s. This exhibition features photographers Frank Espada, David González, Ricky Flores, Perla de León, Joe Conzo, Pablo Delano, Francisco Reyes II and Máximo Colón.

Puerto Rican curator Adriana Teresa reflects on the meaning of being Puerto Rican, and challenges the questions of who is Puerto Rican, what makes us Puerto Rican and why we identify as Puerto Rican?

Dia means across, through or apart—a metaphor for the emotional agility needed to navigate the churning undercurrents of Puerto Rican identity.  Seeking to transcend boundaries of location, language, and time—this group depicts Puerto Rican life and culture in New York during the rapidly changing decades between the 1960s and 1980s.

This era saw New York’s Puerto Rican community grow in numbers as it confronted daunting social and economic problems. Neighborhoods were abandoned and torched, leaders arose from the streets and churches and communities were remade. Flush with the pride and excitement of a home-grown cultural revolution, art and music were found as easily on the street as in the concert hall or museum. Even in this turbulent social era, new artistic alliances were forged between downtown hotshots and Boogie Down homeboys in places whose futures seemed buried in rubble.

The chronicle of this Puerto Rican community in New York also depicted as Nuyorican—a term whose derogatory intent has turned on its head—was compiled from the archives of six Puerto Rican men and one woman, who each stood behind the lens to document every day life in their communities in New York.

Frank Espada stuck to his principles. He documented the joys and pains found in El Barrio and beyond, but always in a way that kept dignity intact.

Perla de León, one of the few female and Puerto Rican photographers at the time, documented the neighborhood in the Bronx where she taught, which was abandoned, desolate, and burned.

Ricky Flores memorializes friends from the block who died painfully young, at a time when the city did little to keep them alive.

David Gonzalez roamed from the relative calm of Fordham Road down to the mayhem of Mott Haven, intent on shooting images of ordinary life amid broken streetscapes.

Joe Conzo was there at the birth – several times over. In high school, he photographed local musical heroes. Later he took to the streets as protesters challenged Hollywood’s facile treatment of the area in films that were little more than fantasies from fevered minds.

Pablo Delano had recently moved to New York when he began what was to be his first photographic project. Conscious of the negative stereotypes that were used to portray the Lower East Side and also the Puerto Rican community in NYC, Delano purposely took beautifully evocative yet thought-provoking images of life in and around an after school arts center for children on East 4th St. between Ave C and D where he was employed.

Máximo Colón’s lovingly candid portraits of Puerto Rican dancers, poets, photographers, musicians and neighbors defied the down-and-out stereotypes that abounded elsewhere.  Francisco Reyes II captured people re-claiming urban spaces and identities within New York’s Puerto Rican community during the mid 70s.

Francisco Reyes II captured people re-claiming their spaces and identities within New York’s Puerto Rican community during the mid 70s.

La isla or the island refers to Puerto Rico, but it can also be the island of Manhattan or Orchard Beach in the Bronx. From this groups perspective, ultimately, we negotiate our meaning of being Puerto Rican and it has nothing to do with where we live. Being Puerto Rican is a sense of heritage, belonging, shared pride and history.  The show is not definitive, but it is resolute in its purpose to show the other side of the other island, the one where La Isla beats in the hearts of these Puerto Rican photographers, even when they stood in the shadows of tenements from Loisaida to the South Bronx. We are voluntary exiles en nuestra isla.

Al morirme que me entierren
en la isla que nací,
que quiero darle a mi isla
lo que ella me ha dado a mí.

Side note from the Curator:

I am Puerto Rican. Why? Because this is how I feel. This feeling is filled with contradictions, and I assume them all. For it takes that I be at odds with myself in front of everyone to show, that being Puerto Rican, just like being American or French or Lebanese is a feeling that although filled with contradictory nuances, it is real.

Since 2004, I am a voluntary exile of Puerto Rico, were I was born and raised and where my family—aside from my husband and his family, who I have adopted as my own—lives. I had to leave Puerto Rico, even if nobody made me leave.  Just like I only use my first and middle name as my carte-de-visite to transcend the boundaries of nationalism, I too will always feel and be proud to say that I am Puerto Rican…In every step that I take towards breaking free from prejudices and stereotypes with condescending intentions to depict being Puerto Rican, Nuyorican or any other “…ican” for that matter, I take one even longer step towards expressing how proud I am to be me.
—Adriana Teresa Letorney Hernández Denton Hernández Cestero Ramos Morales Reyes

Translation to the lyrics of this Bomba song by Lyn Domínguez:

Cuando yo miro tus ojos
parece que miro al cielo
arropado con estrellas
y cubierto con luceros.

When I look into your eyes
It is as if I see the heavens
Wrapped in stars
And covered with splendor.

Al morirme que me entierren
en la isla que nací,
que quiero darle a mi isla
lo que ella me ha dado a mí.

When I die let them bury me
In the island where I was born,
For I want to give my island
What she has given me.

For Press inquiries please contact Adriana Teresa, adriana@fotovisura.com

This Exhibition is sponsored by Federico José Hernández, Founder and Producer of Taste of Rums


Photo Ethics and the Necessity of Licking the Queens Neck

African-American protesters take to the streets in Bensonhurst in Brooklyn on May 19, 1990, after the acquittal of Keith Mondello on the charge of manslaughter in the death of Yusef Hawkins, a Black youth who was shot to death on August 23, 1989.  Protesters were met by jeers and curses from a mostly Italian community during the demonstration.

Here we are, continuing to probe into the mind of other photographers so we may hear and learn about (or from!) their experiences. This post is by our dear friend Ricky Flores.  -Miriam Romais, Executive Director of En Foco

There are more interviews with other artists at En Foco’s blog.

Hunts Point Express Interview

Surviving Hunts Point’s bad old days

Posted on 20. Feb, 2010

By Peter Jackson | peter.jackson@hunter.cuny.edu

Photographer Ricky Flores remembers bad times and good

By Peter A. Jackson

Ricky Flores’ friends call him the “Jimmy Olsen Guy” because, like Superman’s sidekick, he always has a camera in his hands.

Flores left Longwood in the early 1990s, moving from his family’s apartment on Fox Street, first to the Grand Concourse and then to northern Westchester. Recently, however, he’s been revisiting his old neighborhood by reviewing thousands of photographs he took between 1982 and 1991.

The photos record not only the devastation of the South Bronx, but also the exuberance that helped residents to cope with those calamitous times.

Times were tough, Flores remembers. “People don’t realize how difficult it was, how barbaric, how marginalized our existence was.”

Yet he and his friends rejected the stereotypes that outsiders imposed on the people who lived in the South Bronx. “One of the things we always struggled with was our vision of who people thought we were, living in that community, as opposed to who we actually were,” he recalls.

He tells a story that illustrates this double vision. Abandoned cars were just left to on neighborhood streets. “Our block, our home was being turned into a dumping ground and the city just didn’t care.”
So Flores and his pals took matters into their own hands. From Longwood Avenue to Southern Boulevard, the pushed the cars into the middle of the street and turned them over.

“They may have called us hooligans, typical Puerto Rican trash, tearing up our block and making it worse for those that lived there. Maybe they might be correct in their assumptions,” he writes, “but to us, on that one summer night we decided that we were going to make the city clean it up.”

Visiting Hunts Point today, he sees a different place. “I look at stuff differently now that I am older. Tiffany Plaza is now a gated community. It’s now like Fort Knox,” he said.

Photography became Flores’ passion in 1978, when he came into a small inheritance from his father, who had died in 1965. He used it to purchase a camera and set out to learn the art of photography, learning to hone his craft and develop his eye primarily by taking shots of friends and family.

The local Police Athletic League (PAL) and Boy Scout Troop on Longwood Avenue nurtured his interest and talent.

The kids in the community hung out at the PAL, Flores recalls. For him and his friends the community center was always a part of their lives, he says.

He learned how to print his negatives, spending enormous amounts of time. On one occasion, he was even left behind when the PAL closed for the night. He could have left, but his love of the place impelled him to stay all night, rather than leave the building unlocked.

Flores recalls the kindness of Bill Raymond, who was the director of the PAL and involved in the Boy Scouts, and Dr. Edward Eismann. “They provided supplies and encouragement whenever I needed it,” he says.

Many of the people who post comments on his photos, are from outside of the United States, and Flores says they view the subject matter as romantic. There was nothing romantic about the time or his efforts, Flores insists. He says he was taking pictures of what he saw, both the pain and the pride.

The photos include burned out buildings, piles of rubble and the general devastation of the neighborhood.

He says he is proud of the people of Hunts Point and Longwood who managed to endure .

A version of this story appeared in the March 2010 issue of The Hunts Point Express.