EXODUS explores the Puerto Rican experience of migration, past and present. Focused on towns and municipalities that are encountering a rapid decrease in population, causing separation of families, homes to be abandoned, and businesses to be closed down. Today's crisis of the poor economy, high taxes, drugs and violence, and a decrease in agriculture that was once a thriving industry for Puerto Rico's economy has contributed to an estimated over 300,000 people leaving the island in the past 10 years, with 144,000 of them leaving in the last 4 years, and 64,000 leaving in 2014 alone.
The municipality of Lares has become emblematic of the economic stagnation that is overwhelming Puerto Rico. The town has lost more residents than any other municipality in Puerto Rico, and has the island's second-highest unemployment rate. In the past five years, more than 25% of businesses have closed and more than a third of farms have collapsed as families flee to the U.S. or to other more prosperous parts of the island.
This new body of work pays special attention to Lares because it is one of the towns my paternal family is from. I'll be exploring my own family history, stories of those effected by this crisis, and their surrounding environments. Exploring the concepts of home, security, memory, freedom, and nationalism through the lens of migration.