Miguel Luciano

Miguel Luciano

Miguel Luciano was born in Puerto Rico, and raised on both, the island and the United States, and works in New York. Through his work he explores themes such as history, pop culture, social justice, and migration, delving into the links between history and pop culture. His recent work also explores themes regarding the complex relationship between Puerto Rico and the U.S. His work takes the form of multimedia, painting, sculpture, or public art.

Biography Source

Luciano's Works

Pure Plantainum is a series of photographs and sculptures, focusing on an icon that first appeared in colonial Puerto Rican art – the plantain. This icon has signified Puerto Rican cultural and political sovereignty, maligned African ancestry, and masculine identity. He works with these to show how the meaning of symbols change through migration. “In the Spanish speaking Caribbean,” Luciano explains, ​“the plantain is a signifier of national culture, and is also embedded with layered vernacular references to race and class. As plantation workers were identified by the notorious ​‘stains’ that plantains left on their clothing, class and labor associations became increasingly radicalized. For example, one who has dark skin might be labeled as having inherited ​‘la mancha del plátano’ or ​‘the stain of the plantain,’ a racist colloquialism that persists in vernacular expression, equating blackness to a stain upon skin or culture.”

Luciano created a ‘pimped’ out version of what is known as a piraguacart, or a shaved-ice pushcart, made with a fiberglass exterior, sound system, and flat-screen monitors. Piragua carts, for Caribbean migrants have often functioned as quick start-up businesses during tough financial times. Luciano’s take on the piragua cart in this highly exaggerated yet still functional manner calls attention to Latino ingenuity, allowing him to parade this marker of Latino history and culture in the midst of rapidly gentrifying urban communities.