Contemporary Taino Photo Exhibition Opens in Puerto Rico

San Juan, Puerto Rico - Challenging the myth of Caribbean Indigenous extinction, an exhibition entitled “The New Old World: Antilles” opened on September 6 at the Museo de Las Americas in Old San Juan, Puerto Rico.

Eighty-three black and white images are presented in four galleries along with quotes from the indigenous photo subjects and excerpts from photographer Marisol Villanueva’s daily journal. The photographs offer an ‘inside view’ Caribbean Native lives and traditions.

To complementary exhibitions examine yucca (also known as cassava) cultivation, a vital connection to the past shared by all indigenous peoples of the region - Cazabi: Gift of the Americas featuring more works by Villanueva illustrating the preparation of casabi (bread made from yucca) and Yuca Cultivation: Boriquen Roots a study of archeological objects used to prepare yucca, curated by Laura Del Olmo.

The exhibition opened with a blessing given by respected Taino community elder Manuel Galagarza of Vega Baja along with opening remarks by representatives of the Consejo General de Tainos Boricanos, Elba Anaca Lugo and Naniki Reyes Ocasio.

Public programs celebrating the opening included a panel discussion on “The Continuance of Indigenous Cultures in the Caribbean Antilles” and a family festival.

The exhibition runs from September 6 – November 30 2005 and is sponsored by the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian and the Museo de Las Americas.

Taino Elder Manuel Galagarza with photographer Marisol Villanueva in San Juan. Photo: Roger Hernandez