By Michael V. Cusenza
Using the Queens Museum’s parking lot as his canvas, Cuban artist Jorge Rodríguez-Gerada recently crafted a masterpiece as a gift to the frontline heroes of the COVID-19 pandemic horror.
“This is not only about, Queens and New York City, the disproportionate loss of life is now evident across the nation. The anti-immigrant discourse that has been omnipresent during the last three years has serious repercussions on the health of minority communities: the lack of health insurance, the fear of deportation and the inability to pay, discourages undocumented migrants from promptly calling for help or to attempt accessing a hospital. The disparate rate of new cases and death between their low income and wealthier zip codes across the nation is evidence of this. Not everyone can decide to not go to work, not everyone can just stay home and still have the money to buy food and necessities for months on end.
“Economic inequality is a crucial factor that influences diet and in the long run, compromises the immune system. Isolation and social distancing is impossible when there are large extended families or many unrelated people forced to share a small apartment due to their financial plight.
“This project is an homage to Hispanic caregivers that risk their lives to save others. It highlights their contribution while at the same time calling for action. These are the people that make our city move, the people that care for us, these are the people that contribute socially, culturally and economically to the nation. They are part of this “American Experiment”, just like all the waves of immigration that came before them. In the year 2020, where hindsight should not be clearer, it is amazing to me that we must continue to ask ourselves…how it is that minorities today still have to suffer the same injustices of the minorities of the past.
“As an artist, I am committed to bringing attention to social issues that need to be addressed.”
Photos Courtesy of Jorge Rodríguez-Gerada