A Creative Feast in Honor of Mary Magdalene
A Saint for Those Who Believe in the Redeeming Quality of the Creative Act
This July 22, 6:00-9:00 p.m., at the Julia de Burgos Cultural Center in East Harlem, NYC, there will be a peculiar gathering. Artist Tanya Torres and musician Raquel Z. Rivera, together with artists from many other disciplines, will come together to celebrate in honor of Mary Magdalene, "Our Lady of Lexington, Patroness of all faithful creative ones who don't believe in anything, but believe in the redeeming quality of the creative act." The Mary Magdalene Celebration is a free event and open to all who love Mary Magdalene or would like to know her.
Mary Magdalene has been an inspiration for Tanya and Raquel for more than a decade, and every few years, they come together to sing Las 7 salves de La Magdalena / 7 Songs of Praise for the Magdalene in honor of the mythical Mary Magdalene. The Celebration consists of an art exhibition of the paintings of Tanya Torres and a performance of the songs by Raquel Z. Rivera. This year, dancer Corazon Tierra, dance-theater performers Xiomara Evans and Marni Rice, bomba dancer Alexandra Vasallo as well as many other artisans, writers and visual artists will be joining with artwork and performances dedicated to Mary Magdalene.
The Celebration takes the form of a traditional Puerto Rican promesa and the songs are performed "promesa-style," with the voices, bodies and joy of everybody present. A promesa is a traditional offering to a saint where people gather to honor that saint through prayer and song. At the Mary Magdalene Celebration the offerings are the artistic creations of the participants, but to keep up with tradition, refreshments will be served.
The artists go beyond the most traditional interpretations of the Biblical Mary Magdalene to explore in art, dance, word and song this Christian character that has emerged in the 21st century as the most accomplished disciple of Jesus Christ, Apostle to the Apostles, priestess, mother, the Goddess in Christianity, and a constant guiding presence for the leading artists.
Although the Mary Magdalene Celebration has been taking place since 2005 in different places and formats, this year the Catholic Pope Francis declared July 22 a Feast Day for the Catholic Church, which imparts a special significance to this year’s Celebration.
To join the Mary Magdalene Celebration, please visit Magdalene.org and sign up for updates and RSVP.
About the artists:
Art for love, peace and joy
Tanya Torres is a Puerto Rican artist and writer living and working in New York City. After completing a B.A. in Art Education at the City College of New York, she was offered a scholarship to complete her M.F.A. at the same institution.
In 2000 she created the artistic space Mixta Gallery in El Barrio, East Harlem, the community where she has lived since 1997.
Her artwork has been presented at the United Nations Organization, the Center for Puerto Rican Studies Library, the Museum of the 19th Century Dominican Family in Santo Domingo (Dominican Republic), the Porta Coeli Museum of the Institute of Puerto Rican Culture), and the Prague Congress Centre in the Czech Republic, among other cultural institutions. She has published the handmade poetry books Caguana (1994), Laberinto (1995), Bestiario mío (2001), I Can Certainly Survive (2002), Cuerpo de batalla/Battle Body(2004), and Sagrario (Shrine) (2007). In 2010, she published a handmade, handwritten edition of the book Canción de la Magdalena with a song by Raquel Z. Rivera. In 2007, she published Cuervo de paz: Repercusiones de la batalla (Peace Body: The Aftermath of the Battle) about life after cancer. In 20011, she published an edition of 50 miniature books of Destellos de Sofía, a book of mystical poetry, and a pendant miniature book edition with the English translation, Sophia's Light in 2014.
In 2002, El Diario/La Prensa selected her as one of the 50 Women of the Year. In 2003, the Center for Puerto Rican Studies at Hunter College (NY) invited her to be part of the project “Puerto Rican Writers: History and Context”, which provides a space in the general archive to preserve and share her documents.
Tanya has read stories for children at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, and taken her projects and exhibitions to places such as Batey Palmarejo in Dominican Republic and Comunidades Especiales in Puerto Rico.
From 2007-2010, she was Artist-in-Residence at P.S. 57 in East Harlem, New York City, where she created 3 mosaic murals and 6 poetry murals. She also created a series of digital paintings commissioned by the East Harlem Bilingual Head Start, and inspired by its mission to create healthy eating habits in young children and their families. The head start also commissioned and houses several of her mosaics. In 2012, her exhibition Heaven and Earth traveled to Prague and was exhibited at the Prague Congress Centre.
Tanya's ongoing art project Song of the Magdalene, with author and musician Raquel Z. Rivera, celebrates Mary Magdalene, the Biblical character and all other expressions of this symbol of feminine divinity, through research and creative actions since 2005. It was presented at St. Mark’s Church in the Lower East Side of New York in 2010,and has traveled across the United States and Puerto Rico.
Tanya currently works from her studio in East Harlem, where she lives, and travels with her art wherever she is invited. Her work celebrates life and nature.
Contact Tanya at Magdalene.org.
Raquel Z. Rivera
Raquel Z. Rivera, Ph.D. is an author, scholar and singer-songwriter.
She is co-editor of the anthology Reggaeton (2009) and author of New York Ricans from the Hip Hop Zone (2003). Her academic articles on popular culture have been published in various books and journals. (Click on CV for complete listing.) A freelance journalist, her articles have been published in numerous magazines and newspapers, among these: Vibe, One World, Urban Latino, El Diario/La Prensa, Hoy, The San Juan Star, El Nuevo Día, Claridad and Diálogo. She blogs about her creative process at Cascabel de Cobre and about reggaeton and hip-hop at www.reggaetonica.blogspot.com.
She has a Ph.D. in Sociology and is a Visiting Scholar at the University of New Mexico’s Sociology Department and an Affiliated Scholar at the Center for Puerto Rican Studies, Hunter College, New York City. Her areas of scholarly interest are popular music and culture, race and ethnicity, nation and diaspora, and the intersections between Latino and Africana studies. She has taught courses in Sociology, Anthropology, Africana and Latino Studies at Columbia University, Hunter College and Tufts University. A sought-after lecturer and panelist, she has done numerous presentations at colleges, conferences, schools and community-based organizations throughout the United States, Cuba and Puerto Rico.
Her essays, short stories and poetry have been featured in journals, newspapers and literary websites, including Letras Salvajes, En la Orilla, Hostos Review/Revista Hostosiana, El Nuevo Día, Claridad, Siempre, El Fémur de Tu Padre and The Latino Artists Roundtable webpage. She is working on her first novel entitled Beba and collaborating with artist Tanya Torres on a multi-media project dedicated to Mary Magdalene.
A singer-songwriter, her debut CD is titled Las 7 salves de La Magdalena / 7 Songs of Praise for the Magdalene. The album debuted on March 2011 at #16 on the Top 20 World Music Charts Europe. She is a founding and current member of bomba group Alma Moyo. She is also a founding and former member of Boricua roots music group Yerbabuena and also of Yaya, an all-women’s musical collective dedicated to Dominican salves and Puerto Rican bomba. She has performed with Grammy-nominated Los Pleneros de la 21 and internationally-renowned Dominican roots/fusion artists Xiomara Fortuna and Luis Dias, jíbaro music music legends Nito Méndez and Alfonso Vélez, and New York City-based Caribbean roots music groups Pa’ lo Monte, Palo Mayor, Kalunga, Los Instantáneos de la Plena and Los Bomberos de Brooklyn. She has performed at SOBs, Satalla Temple of World Music, Lincoln Center’s La Casita Festival, Nuyorican Poets Café, Hostos Community College, Yale University and the National Museum of American History in Washington D.C., among numerous other venues.
She is a board member of Latino Studies journal.
Born and raised in Puerto Rico, she commutes between New York City and Albuquerque.
To contact Raquel Z. Rivera email: firstname.lastname@example.org.