+ aquerenciarse: to become fond of a place


a deep quiet sense of inner well-being that comes from knowing a particular place of the earth, its diurnal seasonal patterns, its fruits and scents, its history and its part in your history . . . where, whenever you return to it, your soul releases an inner sigh of recognition.

Kirkpatrick Sale, Dwellers in the Land: The Bioregional Vision

Home is often difficult to define, locate, or understand for Puerto Rican-Americans. As children of the diaspora, much of our engagement with present and future paths requires a sensitivity to the past. Created for the Punto Urban Art Museum in Salem, Massachusetts, this 8' x 8' public mural is inspired by the notion of querencia, which describes the desire to experience a deep-felt sense of connection with a place.

Within acts of gardening, farming, or restoring land exist the relationship between earth and body: a tangible experience of moving soil through one’s fingertips. The ridges of fingerprints and the contours of topography share similar visual qualities, and by using our own fingerprints as topographic markers, we investigate the patterns, relationships, and questions that emerge at the intersection of place and identity. An abstracted soil map of Puerto Rico is at the center of the piece, referencing our personal and cultural histories as a multi-layered exploration of past, present, and future. The deconstructed map-like image considers the negotiations that emerge between land | body, diaspora | home, translation | glitch, and community | self.


This project is a meditation on the relationship between land (earth and home), identity (constructed and inherited), and community (cultural and geographical). We invite you to explore these ideas by responding to the prompts below.


Este proyecto es una meditación sobre la relación entre la tierra (suelo y patria), la identidad (desarrollada y heredada), y la comunidad (cultural y geográfica). Te invitamos a explorar estas ideas respondiendo a las indicaciones a continuación.


pick a statement

+ land as sustainer
+ land as identity
+ land as connection to our ancestors
+ land as moral obligation
+ land as sacred
+ land as self

escoge una declaración

+ la tierra como sustentador
+ la tierra como identidad
+ la tierra como vínculo con nuestros antepasados
+ la tierra como obligación moral
+ la tierra como algo sagrado
+ la tierra como uno mismo


pick a time / state of being

past / present / future

escoge un tiempo / estado de ser

pasado / presente / futuro


pick an action


+ write a memory about your selected statement
+ ask question(s) about where you came from
+ or answer question(s):

what are the last four things you heard?
• how did you get here?
• how were your fingerprints formed?


+ describe current feelings about your selected statement
+ ask question(s) about where you are
+ or answer question(s):

what are you hearing right now?
• why are you here now?
• what does your neighborhood feel like? 
•what does it look like?


+ make a suggestion about your selected statement
+ ask question(s) about where you’re going
+ or answer question(s):

what will you make?
• where will you go?

escoge una acción


+ anota una memoria sobre la oración seleccionada
+ haz preguntas acerca de tu origen (nacional y actual)
+ o responde a la(s) pregunta(s):

¿cuáles son las últimas cuatro cosas que escuchaste?
• ¿cómo has llegado hasta aquí?
• ¿cómo se formaron tus huellas digitales?


+ describe los sentimientos actuales sobre la oración seleccionada
+ haz preguntas sobre dónde te encuentras
+ o responde a la(s) pregunta(s):

¿qué estás escuchando ahora mismo?
• ¿por qué estás aquí ahora?
• ¿cómo es “la energia” de tu barrio? 
• cómo se ve?


+ haz una sugerencia sobre la oración seleccionada
+ haz preguntas sobre adónde va
+ o responde a la(s) pregunta(s):

¿qué es posible que hagas?
• ¿adónde esperas ir?

Alyssa Irizarry

Alyssa Irizarry is program director at Bow Seat Ocean Awareness Programs, an environmental arts nonprofit.

José A. Rivera

José A. Rivera (aka Proxemia) is an architecturally trained multimedia artist and designer.

Together, they formed Surface + Symbol, a vehicle for thinking critically about and communicating contemporary environmental issues. The collaboration works at the nexus of spatial thinking, human geography, and visual art. They live near Boston, Massachusetts, with cats and plants.