On Wednesday, December 20, 2006, an open house at Eugenio Maria de Hostos Community College offered the first public viewing of a permanent installation by the distinguished Puerto Rican Artist Antonio Martorell. The installation, La Plena Inmortal, is a mixed-media work inspired by medieval artist Hans Holbein’s Dance of Death, a genre that was in vogue during the Late Middle Ages and the Renaissance. Following the viewing, a reception was held in the artist’s studio at the College.
“This is a work in progress,” he said. “My mission here has been to realize a multidisciplinary project about La Plena, a traditional musical genre that originated in San Anton, Ponce, Puerto Rico. What you see is just the beginning of a permanent exhibit about La Plena Inmortal and the Dance of Death.”
Dr. Dolores M. Fernandez, President of Hostos, expressed her deep gratitude for the artist’s gift to the institution: “Today a wonderful legacy has been bestowed upon Eugenio Maria de Hostos Community College. La Plena Inmortal by Maestro Antonio Martorell is a treasure that will belong not only to the Hostos family but to the community this college serves. Martorell’s artistic vision and the message it conveys will inspire an appreciation of Latino and Puerto Rican culture in the present generation and generations to come.”
In Martorell’s creation, La Plena is the singer in the Dance of Death and the one who speaks to those who are about to die. The installation consists of dozens of octagonal and diamond-shaped surfaces displaying wood-cuts and dry points on copper printed on Asian, European and Latin American paper collaged on plastic. Stanzas written by the author are also engraved in the wood and printed as part of the images.
In addition to answering questions about his work, the artist demonstrated his technique to media representatives and guests at the open house. “Through my work, I hope to make people more familiar with the reality of our mortality and to reflect on life, love, war and death,” Martorell said.
During the reception, he acknowledged the contributions of his assistants, Juan Carlos Menendez, Thiago Szmrecsanyi, and Juan Fernando Morales. In addition, he recognized Hostos Lincoln Academy teachers, Evan Schwartz and Jose Perez Melendez, as well as Roberto Velez, a student apprentice.
The open house was attended by New York State Assemblywoman Carmen E. Arroyo, who secured initial funding to commission the project. Other guests included community residents, students, Hostos’ staff, CUNY faculty members and media representatives.
“Con este taller, he querido darle color a la muerte; hacerla festiva. Si, he vestido la muerte de color”, said Martorell to dozens of guests who attended the open house reception.
Music was provided by Los Pleneros de la 21.
La Plena Inmortal is installed in Room B513 of the B Building at Hostos Community College, 500 Grand Concourse and 149th Street. For information about viewing schedule, please call 718.518.4355.
Hostos Community College is a unique institution that has experienced a very positive transformation in recent years. With newly renovated facilities and a faculty dedicated to excellence, the college provides an intellectually rich environment with high academic standards.
Director of Public Relations
Office of Institutional Development
Eugenio Maria de Hostos Community College
of The City University of New York
120 East 149th Street, Rm. 214 E
Bronx, NY 10451 Bronx, New York 10451