Monday, October 02, 2023




Festival Honors the Diversity of the Latino Experience in America and Celebrates Latino New Yorkers Who Embody Franklin D. Roosevelt's “Four Freedoms”

NEW YORK, NY – On the occasion of Hispanic Heritage Month, September 15 – October 15, the Four Freedoms Park Conservancy will host a “LatinXtravaganza” family festival curated by Pulitzer Prize finalist and Brooklynite Xochitl Gonzalez at Franklin D. Roosevelt Four Freedoms State Park on Roosevelt Island, October 7 from 11:00 am to 4 pm. A newly commissioned mural by Mata Ruda entitled “Esta Tierra Es Nuestra Tierra” (“This Land is Our Land”), celebrating the diversity of Latino experience in America and featuring Latino New Yorkers representing FDR’s Four Freedoms, will be unveiled. The “LatinXtravaganza” family festival is FREE with registration.

The Festival will include wonderful activities, including a Latino Banned Book Library from Lush and a pop-up bookstore from Cafe con Libros. It will also feature Children's Story Time by Alyssa Reynoso-Morris, a musical performance from Bomba y Plena, dance lessons with Ballet Hispánico and Salsa Salsa Dance School, a domino tournament organized by NYC Dominoes, live mariachi music, poetry readings, food trucks, face painting, a set from DJ Christian Mártir and a composting exhibit by iDig2Learn.
“When I first contacted Xochitl about the idea of curating a public art installation and event at FDR Four Freedoms State Park, she seized the opportunity. By transforming a presidential monument designed completely in white granite by the great American modernist Louis Kahn, she recognized that her words, sentences and paragraphs that are her craft could be put to influential public purpose,” said Howard Axel, Chief Executive Office of Four Freedoms Park Conservancy. “Working together, Mata Ruda and Xochitl created an important, temporary intervention, just 1,500ft from the United Nations, that reminds every visitor to the park of a more accurate and inclusive history.”
“In the absence of our own official monuments, murals have allowed us to assert and celebrate our histories, origin stories and heroes,” said Xochitl Gonzalez, cultural critic, producer, screenwriter, and New York Times bestselling author of Olga Dies Dreaming
“Not as they are seen from the outside, but from within. It felt, given this context, the most appropriate medium to reflect the multitude of voices in our community, and when I encountered Mata Ruda’s work, I knew that we would be in caring, passionate hands.” 
“It is really important to figure out how these versions of history – the white granite presentation of history and the rich, under-celebrated history embodied by the Nueva Yorquinos on our mural – can exist side by side. This public work seeks to reclaim our space through a generative, additive, annotative process rather than one of subtraction and erasure,” Gonzalez added. 

The Mural
“Despite our history in this country that can be counted now in centuries, this myth of Latino ‘otherness’ perpetuates. This unique opportunity to visually transform part of the New York City landscape with a celebration of us felt like a small, but meaningful restorative act towards correcting the erasure of nuestra voices,” said Gonzalez.
The mural features Latino New Yorkers, embodying FDR’s Four Freedoms: freedom of speech and expression, freedom of worship, freedom from want, and freedom from fear. 

  • Dr. Marta Moreno Vega: Freedom of religion – As a writer, educator, cultural leader and Yoruba priestess, she has done unquantifiable work to destigmatize and contextualize Santeria and other Afro-diasporic faiths. 
  • Lorena Borjas: Freedom from fear – She protected countless transgender women from being trafficked, of falling ill, of being deported. 
  • Candido Arcángel: Freedom from want – For 14 years, the Brooklyn bodega owner turned his basement into a makeshift homeless shelter for men who had fallen on hard times. 
  • Olga Garriga: Freedom of speech – From our past, a Brooklynite turned freedom-fighter, jailed for speaking in defense of Puerto Rican liberation under the gag laws of the late 1940s. 

The last figure on the mural is a dreamer who represents an “every man” who refuses to be relegated to the margins.
“I decided to work with a variety of brown earth tones against the blue shadow. Conceptually, my thinking is that these tones will contrast with the white granite steps – challenging the classical, “Western” architecture of the site,” said artist Mata Ruda. “With the title “Esta Tierra Es Nuestra Tierra,” the earth tones so closely weave with the concepts of the piece and resemble clay, dirt, soil, adobe. It also ties in with the medium I work with to paint the pieces – adobe powder, plaster, and wood stain.”
Directions to the Park can be found HERE

Four Freedoms Park Conservancy (FFPC), founded in 2011, operates under a Friends Agreement with New York State Parks to produce and curate public programs at Franklin D. Roosevelt Four Freedoms State Park. The park, designed by the groundbreaking American modernist architect Louis Kahn, is among the most significant architectural masterpieces in New York City. By leveraging this spectacular architecture and the unique location of the park, FFPC strives to produce events, installations and public art and works with nonprofit partners that can ignite conversations about the Four Freedoms and the legacy of President Franklin D. Roosevelt.
For more information about Franklin D. Roosevelt Four Freedoms State Park, please visit:

No comments: