Wearable Art to Support Puerto Rico

October 25, 2017

Deanna and Rafael

LIS student, Deanna Irizarry, designs unique t-shirts to benefit Puerto Rico's recovery.

LIS Student Deanna Irizarry and her partner Rafael Fields, an AmeriCorp Legal Advocate at the Justice Center of Southern Massachusetts, have teamed up to create artful t-shirts that champion the strength and culture of Puerto Rico. All proceeds from the sale of the t-shirts will be contributed to the relief fund of ConPRmetidos, a nonprofit based in San Juan, which will go toward Puerto Rico’s recovery after the devastating hurricane. We asked Deanna a few questions about this project.

How did you come up with the t-shirt idea?

Shortly after Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico and the extent of the damage was clear, I watched in agony as the federal government failed to react in proportion to the catastrophe. It became apparent that hope for the future came from people organically contributing what they could.

I had no money to give but felt deeply the need to contribute, so I decided to offer my time and creativity to the cause. The idea for t-shirts came from the basic goal of the fundraiser, which is two-fold. We want to create a revenue stream for relief efforts; all proceeds will be donated directly to such efforts. The second goal of this campaign is to raise awareness of the current and dire situation the people of Puerto Rico face. I want people to wear these shirts as statements of support and solidarity. Perhaps they will act as conversation starters, giving people the opportunity to spread the word further.

Do you have an arts background?

I've always loved to make art. It has served as a means of self-expression and helped me get through hard times.

What are you studying?

I'm in the archives concentration. I am drawn to archives because of its power in reshaping history to be more inclusive in its subjects, its storylines, and its narrators.

What is your connection to Puerto Rico?

I, like many Puerto Ricans, feel that the island is my home and place of origin. Although I was not born there, I have a deep connection to the island of Puerto Rico and I feel that its history is my own. I've only been able to visit the island and my family there a couple times in my life but each time was like traveling into the stories of my childhood. I returned from each trip with fresh memories of my favorite taco shop and limbers sold by an old man on the street. In the wake of Hurricane Maria, confronted with images of destruction, this connection is only strengthened.

puertoricotshirt

Photos courtesy of Deanna Irizarry. Top: Deanna Irizarry and Rafael Fields. Below: Si Se Puede! t-shirt. From the website: "Partially inspired by the iconic image of "Rosie the Riveter" pulling up her sleeve, this image is an ode to the strength and leadership of women in building a just society. Added to the image are the words, "Si se puede" which have been made famous by the Obama presidential campaign and Cesar Chavez before him, but were first the words of Dolores Clara Fernández Huerta, the American labor leader and civil rights activist."