Esconderte del mundo y en ti mismo esconderte

January 31, 2024 - June 21, 2024
Nancy Dryfoos Gallery

About the Exhibition

“Esconderte del mundo y en ti mismo esconderte” is an immersive installation by Jacoub Reyes detailing the rise and fall of the sugar plantation system in Puerto Rico. The title, translated to “hide from the world and hide in yourself,” is an excerpt from Julia de Burgos’ best-known poem, “Rio Grande de Loiza”. In this poem, Burgos’ childhood landscape emerges as a driving force for her memories and reveals the harm and grief of her island, enslaved by colonialism.

Throughout this installation, Reyes uses contrasting visual tropes to create connections between Santeria, Catholicism, freedom, exploitation, memory, and cultural preservation. He focuses on the lasting social, political, and ecological effects of the colonial experience through the interior of a sugar mill ruin. The installation features a variety of multi-media, including video, audio, assemblage, screen prints, woodcuts, painting, and textile works. Through this, he aims to excavate histories lost, forgotten, and buried beneath us.

Access a Spanish audio translation of the exhibition text here.

Selected Works

About the Artist

Jacoub Reyes is an interdisciplinary artist based in Central and South Florida, primarily working in printmaking and large-scale installation. His work utilizes experimental techniques to unravel his complex mixed-cultural heritage to build an imagined future based on belonging and resistance.

He has had exhibitions and interactive public performances at the Asian Art Museum, The Crisp-Ellert Art Museum, Frontera Galeria Urbana- Guadalajara, Museum of Latin American Art, Highpoint Center for Printmaking, International Print Center New York, The Mennello Museum of American Art, and Aqua Art Miami, among others. Reyes received awards and fellowships from the Foundation for Contemporary Arts Emergency Grant, South Florida Cultural Consortium Grant, 4Culture Grant, Broward County's Artist Innovation Grant, The Puffin Foundation, Allies in Arts Grant, Immerse Artist Grant, and Awesome Grant. Notable residencies include MAC en el Barrio Residency at Hunter College, NYC (2023), The University of California-San Francisco's Library Artist in Residence (2022-23), Alfred University's BIPOC Artist Residency (2022), and Ma's House BIPOC Artist Residency (2021). Reyes is the Artistic Director for the City of Boynton Beach's Quantum Eco-Park and President of the Florida Printmakers Society.

Reyes received his BFA from the University of Central Florida in 2013, where he was awarded the J.R. Hopes Scholarship.

Artist Statement

I excavate my individual and ancestral biographies to unearth my cultural heritage. My layered identity invites me to see taxonomy as a system that requires decolonization. My mother is a first-generation Catholic Caribbean; my father is Muslim and a South Asian immigrant. My mom moved us from the industrial inner-city of the North to the expansive suburbia of the South, just as the war on Iraq gave way to a new wave of racism and Islamophobia. Later, I began to name the societal pressures that led to the self-removal of large parts of my racial and ethnic tapestry that reduced my proximity to whiteness. Much of my work synthesizes this research and uses the body metaphorically to symbolize complex internal emotions associated with the colonial and diasporic experience.

My caretaking work in gardens led to research on restoring natural areas through reintroducing and cultivating native plants, animals, and insects. I found myself outside in the Florida sun many days, working with many of the subjects and themes now present in my work. The anthropomorphic figures of the natural world ingrained in my large woodcarvings and installations identify unresolved tension and stress. I am invested in dismantling the boundaries between oral history, academia, personal stories, and ancestral trauma; instead, I see these as essential parts of a complete narrative. I aim to redefine the trauma responses of fight, flight, freeze, and fawn as instruments of colonization. Primarily, my work focuses on recontextualizing Caribbean art through a diasporic lens.

I challenge the contemporary communication of the mixed-race or multi-cultural experience. Mixed cultural identity is not relegated to a hyphenated background; but rather a sum of all parts that are interdependent and foundational. The faceless figures of invasive and native plants examine the multiplicity of colonization. Displaying native and invasive plants in various tensions and settings upheaves how we see and experience race, class, and ability. My process to create these works involves finding materials, making tools, and printing without a press or traditional technologies. I work within a space deeply grounded in tradition but flourishes only due to innovation and creativity.