Warriors of Light

 

Photographer Vivian Rodriguez’s latest exhibit “Warriors of Light” places the immigrant experience in sharp focus.  The exhibit is a concise narrative of upward mobility.  Through a series of photographs Rodriguez charts her Uncle Jesus’ American journey.  An Artist Reception in Rodriguez’s honor will be held Thursday, January 26, 2012 from 4:00 - 6:00 PM.

From a dilapidated former Singer Sewing Machine plant in Elizabeth, NJ to the towering granite and limestone of 120 Wall Street, Rodriguez savvily juxtaposes her uncle’s diffident figure against imposing facades and crumbling edifices. The images are enhanced by warm lighting.  A collection of sepia toned photographs in the rear of the gallery also help tell the story of the Valle Cardosa family, who immigrated to America from Las Villas, Cuba with the hope of making a better life. 

The exhibition takes its name from a passage in Paulo Coelho’s beloved novel “The Alchemist.”  There Coelho writes that one's personal calling is the path that God has chosen for us here on Earth and we the  "the warriors of light" must be prepared to have patience in difficult times and to know that the Universe is conspiring in our favor, even though we may not understand how.

The struggle of having to leave Cuba and start a new life as an immigrant in the United States and the path her uncle chose to take during those difficult years is the theme of “Warriors of Light.” Accompanying her Uncle Jesus to his old haunts Rodriguez visited all the places where he lived and worked. He regaled her with tales of lost relatives and the two relished the time together.  The warmth and intimacy of their bond is evident in Rodriguez’s photographs.   For Rodriguez “Warriors of Light” is more than just a photography exhibit, it is a tribute to her Uncle Jesus and all the members of her family that came to the United States so that they could provide the next generation with lives full of hope and opportunity.

The theme of overcoming adversity to achieve success is a resonant one.  Perhaps others have sacrificed or paved the way in some other fashion for you to pursue your education at Kean.  If so, this exhibit may inspire you to pay tribute to them in some special way.