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Orlando Caraballo: Capicú

Artist Bio

Orlando Caraballo is a Cleveland-based visual artist and arts administrator.  His artwork is rooted in imaginative storytelling that investigates the relationship between personal and cultural identity in the context of both the larger Puerto Rican diaspora and his family’s vocational legacy in the greater community.  Orlando invites his audience to reflect on the meaning of lineage, legacy, and vocation in a world in need of a more humane and loving form of leadership.  He holds a BFA from the Cleveland Institute of Art with a Major in Drawing and an emphasis in Printmaking.

Orlando serves as the Education Director at the Cleveland Print Room and the Artist + Community Engagement Interventionist at ATNSC: Center for Healing & Creative leadership, working with staff, artists, and community members to build compelling experiences for creative people across generations.  As Paulo Freire said, “Dialogue cannot exist without humility,” an attitude that Orlando brings to his artistic practice as well as his work at the Print Room and ATNSC, maintaining a strong commitment to community-facing work that informs and empowers others through thoughtful exchange and meaningful dialogue.

Capicú Artist Statement 

Capicú explores the effects love, death, grief, and time have had on my place in my family’s legacy.  Through drawing, printmaking, installation, and photography, I have created portals that peer into my life and the life of my ancestors.  These bind together to form a whole story, unifying drawn imagery, photographs, and written reflections to share some consejos (wisdoms) that  my family and I have inherited and distilled along the way.

I searched through and archived Polaroid and Kodak photographs that belonged to my parents and grandparents, setting aside images that made my spirit move, my mind run amock, my heart skip a beat.  These images range from the early 40s and 50s to the mid-aughts, allowing me to pull back the curtain on our family history; to see myself in my ancestors and reveal their influence in me.  They are foundational to this work and appear throughout Capicú.

This exhibition is my response to the research, the archiving, the listening, the grieving, and, ultimately, the accepting.  It reflects the complexities of my personal, familial, and cultural systems, peeling back the layers of generational progress and highlighting the power of choice, of strategy and intention in the midst of hardship and generational baggage.  Capicú, a term from the Puerto Rican game of dominos, is in essence a win-win: the mano(game)-ending product of team-based strategy and careful observation that leaves a single player with the ability to choose how  they are going to claim victory.  This work is my strategy, my careful attempt at claiming victory for both my people and myself, if even for just this chapter.  After all, there are more manos to play.

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