New York State Capitol
Governor's Reception Room, 2nd Floor
On View September 15 - October 14
From September 15 - October 15, we observe Hispanic Heritage Month and celebrate the histories, cultures and achievements of Hispanic and Latino Americans in New York. These contributions have enriched and strengthened our state.
Hispanic Heritage Month begins on September 15, a significant day in several Latin American countries. It is the anniversary of independence for Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua. Mexico celebrates independence on September 16, Chile on September 18 and Belize on September 21.
New York State has the fourth largest Latino population in the United States. Nearly one in five New Yorkers identifies as Latino or Hispanic. Since 2000, the Latino population in the state has grown by nearly 33 percent, today making up 19 percent of all New Yorkers. Every day, members of the Latino community help shape New York’s bright future with their hard work, dedication, and ideas.
Hispanic heritage and influence is reflected in many aspects of life in this country and is shown in traditions, language, tastes, music and art. Hispanic Heritage Month is an opportunity to honor this influence, as well as to highlight Latino achievements in various fields such as arts and culture, economics, politics, athletics, and science.
This year New York State recognizes the creative and important Latino contributions to the arts—featuring artwork by notable Latino artists of the New York State Harlem Art Collection.
New York State’s Harlem Art Collection was conceived in 1976 to draw public attention to and celebrate the Harlem art community. The pieces, created by Black and Hispanic artists, were submitted for consideration to, and subsequently selected by, the Harlem State Office Building Committee on Arts and Culture. The committee was created and organized in 1975 by then Senator H. Carl McCall with representation from state and city governments and the Harlem business community.
The resulting collection is comprised of more than 100 works of art, including painting, sculpture, photography, prints, and mixed-media, by 65 artists. Several of these artists are now considered major contributors to the history of American art, and to one of the most important art movements of the 20th century.
The works in the collection cover a span of over 100 years and include works by artists from the Harlem Renaissance up to the mid-1970s.
In addition to prominent Black artists from the 20th century, the collection includes such notable works by Puerto Rican artist, Adál Maldonado and Cuban American artists, Luis Cruz Azaceta and Sita Gomez, who is featured here.
Hispanic and Latino artists have had a strong impact and influence on the history of American Art. Drawing from cultural traditions and imagery, their artwork provides powerful and expressive commentary ranging in themes from migration to representation.
Similar to many artists of the Harlem Art Collection whose work was inspired by the Civil Rights and Black Power Movements, the Hispanic and Latino artists in the collection explore societal experiences and document their communities through the lens of cultural identity and diaspora
Roger Cabán (b. 1942)
1975, silver gelatin
Roger Cabán was born in Puerto Rico but moved to New York City as a child. He spent his career photographing around Puerto Rico and New York and was an avid participant in community-based activist organizations. Cabán’s Untitled II is part of The IRT Prayer Book, a photo-essay book on the New York subway system with photographs by Cabán and accompanying text by playwright Dolores Prida.
So Much Dragging Our Shadows
1971, etching on paper
“What is reflected in my print is the first years in New York. Which were full of emotions due mostly to the impact of a new culture. I felt the necessity to communicate to the viewer a message charged with the reality that I was living. My solution then was to write on the prints a long text instead of a title. This text reflected my view of the world.”– Orlando Condeso, 1981
1970, oil on canvas
Born to Puerto Rican immigrants, Cottes was an active member of the Puerto Rican Art Movement in East Harlem and worked at the Center for Puerto Rican Cultural Relations. Cottes’ The Ride depicts abstracted, androgynous figures in earth tones grouped together with fists upraised. The upraised fists act as representations of people holding onto subway rails while simultaneously referencing the raised fist as a symbol of power and solidarity.
Sita Gomez de Kanelba (b. 1932)
1966, mixed media
“In all my work there is a strong colorful Latin mood permeating, reflecting my Hispanic heritage.” -Sita Gomez, 1976
Born in Paris, Sita Gomez is a distinguished Cuban American painter. Her family fled Paris during World War II and lived in both New York and Cuba until 1959 when the Gomez family was forced to leave Cuba under Fidel Castro’s rule. Gomez received her degree from the Parsons School of Design and had her first solo exhibition in New York City in 1964.
Adál Maldonado (1948 - 2020)
Un Problema Con La Conversación
1976, silver gelatin
Adál Maldonado (ADÁL) is a prolific, self-identified Nuyorican (portmanteau referring to Puerto Ricans living in New York) photographer whose work centers around questions of displacement and identity. In 1975, he co-founded The Foto Gallery, a gallery centered around promoting the status of photography as a fine arts medium.
Maldonado also collaborated with poets, writers, and musicians to create art and experiences that speak to the Puerto Rican diaspora in the United States.
1976, mixed media
“All my art is based in human conditions I found in Harlem and similar areas in New York. My work is the intermediary between a specific lifestyle and the public.” - Pablo Romero, 1976
Romero began his artistic career in 1967 and exhibited his work throughout New York City and Puerto Rico. He taught himself printmaking and received tutoring from influential artists such as José Alicea, Francisco Cervoni and Luis Hernández Cruz.
Jorge Luis Rodriguez (b. 1944)
1976, charcoal on paper
Jorge Luis Rodriguez was born in Puerto Rico but moved to New York City in 1963 where he received two degrees in sculpture from the New York School of Visual Arts and New York University. The Untitled circular graphite drawing was inspired by Cabal and Pythagorean mathematical systems. His circular drawings were the subject of Rodriguez’s first solo exhibition as a professional artist held at the seminal Just Above Midtown Gallery in New York City in 1976.