Darice Polo, born in New York City, received her MFA in drawing and painting from SUNY, Albany and her BFA from the School of Visual Arts. She currently lives and works in Cleveland, Ohio and was awarded a Creative Workforce Fellowship by Cuyahoga Arts and Culture, and a Puffin Foundation Grant; both in support of her independent film, A Wise Latina Woman. She was an artist-in-residence at the Santa Fe Art Institute during the thematic residency Equal Justice.
Polo was one of nine artists who responded to the first 100 days of the US presidency in the exhibition The First 100+ Days at Spaces Gallery in Cleveland in 2017. In September 2018 her silk-screen prints, Seeds of Colonialism, will be exhibited in the Ohio Artists For Freedoms exhibition at the Art Academy of Cincinnati. Founded by Hank Willis Thomas and Eric Gottesman, For Freedoms Federation encourages new forms of critical discourse and the use of art as a vehicle to build greater participation in American Democracy.
She has had solo exhibitions at West Virginia University in Morgantown; William Busta Gallery, Raw & Co Gallery and Some Time Gallery in Cleveland; and participated in numerous group exhibitions in New York, San Francisco, Sacramento, Chicago, Philadelphia, Baltimore, San Antonio, and at the University of Puerto Rico in Mayagüez.
Darice Polo is an Associate Professor of drawing and painting at Kent State University’s School of Art.
My work chronicles the history of my ancestors to delve deeply into the adverse affect of colonial policies on Puerto Rico since the United States took over the island 120 years ago.
For many years I depicted the assimilation of the Puerto Rican diaspora through drawings and paintings of my ancestors in New York in the early 20th century. In this body of work, I translated photographic prints and 8mm film stills into ethereal layers of graphite and oil paint. As the stifling debt currently faced by Puerto Ricans living on the island worsened throughout the last decade, I decidedly shifted my focus to video as a medium in 2013 when I first began capturing footage in Puerto Rico for an independent film. My most recent visit happened three months after hurricanes Irma and Maria.
The film addresses the plight of the Puerto Rican people and how colonial powers suppress the history and sovereignty of indigenous cultures. It raises questions about Puerto Rico’s status as an unincorporated territory of the United States and why Puerto Ricans as U.S. citizens are not fully represented in Congress or have the power to vote in U.S. elections.
As a result of the research conducted for the film, I have created and exhibited drawings and prints related to Puerto Rico’s colonial history. A recent solo exhibition, Seeds of Colonialism, consisted of a series of silk-screened prints of statements made by U.S. government officials following the takeover of Puerto Rico at the conclusion of the Spanish-American War. The statements are especially poignant in light of the negligent response by the U.S. government following the aftermath of Hurricane Maria.
My experience at SFAI has helped me to recognize and distill the essential elements needed to better communicate issues of injustice addressed in my work. It has energized my practice and provided me with experiences that will continue to impact the direction of my work.