Groana Melendez

Groana participated as a Visual Arts Fellow for AVR4 (May 2021). Click here to see Groana’s program.

Groana Melendez is a lens-based artist whose work explores hybrid identities through self-representation. Raised between New York City and Santo Domingo she holds an MFA in Advanced
Photographic Studies from the International Center of Photography-Bard Program. Groana has participated in group exhibitions in Guadalupe, the Leslie Lohman Museum for Gay and Lesbian Art, and currently at El Museo del Barrio. She’s also had solo shows at the New York Public Library, CUNY, and ICP-Bard’s studio in Queens. She works and lives in the Bronx in New York City.

As a first generation American, I am interested in exploring hybrid identities through self-representation. I’m curious about the complex relationships between a family fractured by emigration. Unable to trace my heritage beyond my grandparents, I use the family album and images of the space my relatives occupy in New York City and Santo Domingo to trace who we are. I look at my relationship between my family, the Dominican Republic, and the United States.

In some of my images, I look at the space my mother has created for herself in Washington Heights. Her childhood was colored by a dictatorship, and as a result, she now buys in bulk. The apartment I grew up in is always cluttered, and rooms are full of trash bags of necessities to ship to the Dominican Republic. Other times I appropriate my family album photographs as a way to explore where I came from. Now I am looking towards the future by using myself as a subject. I perform in front of the camera alone to question my identity separate from my Dominican culture.”

 Groana Melendez