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Biography

​Amanda is an artist, photographer, and seven-year Air Force Veteran originally from NYC, now living in the Maspeth neighborhood of Queens.

 

As an undergraduate student at Barnard College of Columbia University, Amanda majored in art history. There, she also flourished in the pursuit of her second passion, language. While in the Air Force, she learned Arabic at the prestigious Defense Language Institute Foreign Language Center in Monterey, CA. She is fluent in and regularly studies the Spanish, Italian, and Arabic languages, and also has some conversational skill in French, Greek and Japanese. She is currently a graduate student of library and information studies at Long Island University Post, where she is specializing in Rare Books and Special Collections as well as pursuing an advanced degree in Archives Management. She has archival internship experience at the Brooklyn Museum and the Wildenstein Plattner Institute in New York City.

 

In 2008, Amanda had the opportunity to study abroad for the summer in Venice, Italy. Since then, she has traveled to multiple countries around the world, including Morocco, Spain, Greece, Colombia, and Iceland. 

 

Amanda receives artistic inspiration from her cultural heritage. At the moment, she is particularly interested in the depiction of women of color in classical art tropes, as well in the exploration of traditional and popular Puerto Rican heritage and culture. She specializes in natural light portrait photography. As an avid sewer, she also makes many of the costumes and garments that her portrait subjects wear. Finally, she is also inspired by frequent travelling and travel photography.

Photo by Joanna O'Shea

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Artist Statements

Painting

I was born in New York City and I am of Puerto Rican and Dominican descent. My genetic makeup is approximately 60% Southern Iberian, 25% Western Sub-Saharan African, 10% Indigenous American, and 5% mixed Italian/Ashkenazie Jewish. This mestizaje is reflective of the racial and cultural mixture that resulted from colonialismo in the Caribbean after the ill-fated arrival of Christopher Columbus in 1492.

My work is an interpretation of the Puerto Rican-American (particularly Nuyorican) experience and a reflection of Puerto Rico’s complex history with colonialism. I explore traditional themes and motifs that are abundant in Puerto Rican culture, some of which come from the island’s indigenous culture, some of which were brought over by European conquistadors, and some of which exemplify Puerto Rican culture in New York City. The primary vehicle through which I manifest my artistic visions is beadwork, an art form that was practiced by many indigenous cultures. In my art, I combine beadwork, embroidery, and Western painting techniques; thus, I consider my artistic style mestizo, a mixture of indigenous and Western traditions which mirrors my own genetic mestizaje.

Taíno culture and religion play a major role in my work. The Taíno were an indigenous Arawak people that inhabited the Caribbean, particularly the islands of Puerto Rico and Hispaniola. It is estimated that 60% of modern-day Puerto Ricans have some degree of Taíno DNA. Dark-skinned women are a dominating presence in my work, which is crucial in my exploration of Puerto Rico’s colonialist history and the country’s role in the Slave Trade.

Religion, particularly Catholicism, also plays a big role in modern-day Puerto Rican culture, and thus my work often invokes religious themes. I play on Catholic thematic concepts by utilizing women of color as protagonists in bible stories that are traditionally embodied by men, such as Las Tres Reinas Magas (The Three Wise Women) or depicting the Virgin Mary as a woman of color rather than the traditional white European representation.

It is difficult to try to maintain one’s ethnic heritage and culture in the United States, especially amidst a rise in overt white nationalism since the last presidency (2017-2021). How can people of color celebrate both national and ethnic identities, particularly when these identities are the result of violent colonialism and the target of perpetual violence?  Through my work I try to ultimately challenge presumptions about the American identity, reflect on my own dualistic identity, and reconcile a complicated heritage.

Photography

Like many photographers, I am endlessly inspired by artistic masterpieces of centuries past, and I often use themes and protagonists of classical art and sculpture as inspiration for my own work. As an art history major in college, I noticed that the positive representation of women of color are largely and notably absent in classical Western styles of art (both as subject and artist). In my art, I often aim to evoke Renaissance ideals of beauty, primarily through the depiction of women of color in classical art tropes. As a female artist of color, I believe it is important for me to photograph other women of color in academic painterly settings in order to promote diversity and representation in classical styles of photography.

Resume

Experience 

2010-present - Freelance artist, designer, and portrait, lifestyle, and art photographer. 

2018-present - PhotoVogue Portfolio

2019-Event Photographer: What's Up? Magazine, 2019 Bridal Expo, Annapolis, MD. 27 January.

2019-Event Photographer: What's Up? Magazine, The Look, Annapolis, MD. 1 March. page 36

2019-Event Photographer: What's Up? Magazine, 2019 Spirit of Community Awards. Live! Casino, MD.  15 March. page 41

2019-Event Photographer: What's Up? Magazine, 15th Anniversary of South River on the Half Shell. History London Town and Gardens, MD. 9 May.

Group Exhibitions

2021 - The Flag Project, Rockefeller Center. Curated by Aperture Foundation. 27 March - 30 April. 

2021 - Der Greif, Guest Room monthly online exhibition, curated by Anna-Alix Koffi. January 31.

2020 - OVADA Gallery, Oxford, London. Photo Oxford Festival, "Women and Photography: Ways of Seeing and Being Seen." 16 October - 16 November. 

Awards

2020 - Chromatic Awards International Color Photography Contest, Honorable mention, Amateur Portrait Category.

2020 - Chromatic Awards International Color Photography Contest, Honorable mention, Amateur Fine Art Category.

2020 - Photo Oxford, "Women & Photography: Ways of Seeing and Being Seen," 7th place.

2019 - 5th Fine Art Photography Awards, Amateur Series Nominee, Fine Arts Category.

Publicity

2020 - "Photo Oxford: a celebration of women and photography – in pictures," The Guardian.