Fan Mail: Jorge Rodriguez-Gerada

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Jorge Rodriguez-Gerada, Gal-La, sun stencil, courtesy of Jorge Rodriguez-Gerada

I had a college geology professor who would pace the front of the classroom, frantically zipping and unzipping her Patagonia puff jacket (color: fog) asking us if we really knew how old four and a half billion years is? Did we really have any concept about how briefly mankind and mammals and reptiles and even little parasitic cells have been around?  This monologue on the insignificance of our short banal little lives was actually a preface to her views on the fuss around climate change which were, of course, that while humans have really messed stuff up, once we die out, the earth will probably recover in a few short couple of millions of years.  Problem solved. For those of us with a more human-centric take on reality, inspiration might well be the perfect incentive for trying to clean up some our mess and it’s artists like Jorge Rodriguez-Gerada who are here to provide it.

Rodriguez-Gerada’s work is grand in scale and execution but with content that is driven by genuine empathy for the individual. His huge charcoal portraits on the sides of buildings are of people selected from the community—a move that not only recognizes the power of the individual but also validates their relevance in the creation of self and communal identities and culture.  Rodriguez-Gerada has most recently teamed with 350.org—an organization dedicated to inspiring the world to rise to the challenge of the climate crisis—to create a piece in their series, 350 Earth, a set of works created around the world that are large enough to be seen from space.  Rodriguez-Gerada’s piece entitled Gal-La is in Delta del Ebro, Spain, and depicts a young girl who hopes to see the Delta survive the threats posed to it by climate change. Again, it’s the selection of the subject that makes the piece so moving and the work of Rodriguez-Gerada has a powerful impact on the viewer.  In his artists statement he says, “’Terrorist’ manipulation has at its base the premise of the individual being considered dispensable in order to change the thinking of the larger group. By giving importance to each life I want to give importance to empathy.” Perhaps counter intuitively, by doing just that, Rodriguez-Gerada has in fact found a commanding tool for changing the thinking of the larger group.

Jorge Rodriguez-Gerada, Gal-La, sun stencil, courtesy of Jorge Rodriguez-Gerada

Jorge Rodriguez Gerada was born in Santa Clara, Cuba in 1966. His family immigrated to the US in 1970 and relocated to New Jersey. While in college Jorge became a founding member of Artfux. Later, he worked with the splinter group of Artfux, Cicada Corps of Artsist. His most well known works are probably that of his Identities series, which he began working on in 2002 and his project EXPECTATION, a sand painting made in the likeness of Barack Obama that cover 2 1/2 acres. Rodriguez-Gerada now lives between New York City and Barcelona.

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