Press

 

LIVING (Feature Arts): DEMOCRAT AND CHRONICLE, Gannett Rochester Newspaper Sunday Edition, Aug. 2, 2008, Rochester, NY. One Craft, Two Paths: “Two new books by Rochester photographers show a 72-year-old master surveying his career and a younger Latino artist trying out a fresh style… Voices in First Person (Simon & Schuster, $16.99) is a collection of 21 short, fictional narratives about being a Latino teenager in America. Manuel Rivera-Ortiz takes photos to illustrate texts by stars such as Sandra Cisneros (House on Mango Street) and Oscar Hijuelos (The Mambo Kings Play Songs of Love).Their new stories are lively, gritty and frank in portraying shootings, rape and isolation. Rivera-Ortiz, 39, matches that tone with disorienting shots often in blurred motion, off-center or deliberately out of focus. We seldom see faces; in-stead, we learn about these people through their graffiti, torn jeans and guns. Unlike Chiarenza, Rivera-Ortiz is still forging his artistic personality. His 2006 "India" exhibit at the Link Gallery, for example, featured traditional (though soulful) portraiture. Voices represents a stylistic departure, while continuing his interest in photographing poverty around the world. "I remember what it was like to grow up poor in Puerto Rico," he says. "Some of these stories mirrored my own family's experiences." He traveled to Puerto Rico, blue-collar Ohio and some Rochester neighborhoods to capture the black-and-white images in Voices. He sought people with backgrounds and issues similar to those explored in the book - relying on friends and family members for tips.”— Stuart Low, Staff Writer/Critic

 

LIVING (Features Arts): DEMOCRAT AND CHRONICLE, Gannett Rochester Newspaper Sunday Edition, December 17, 2006, Rochester, NY. Photographer captures poverty's portrait: Rochester photographer Manuel Rivera-Ortiz documents the world's most destitute corners: “Wherever he travels, the images that haunt Manuel Rivera-Ortiz are his memories of growing up poor.??Since 2001, this Rochester photographer has snapped portraits in some of the most destitute corners of the Third World. Whether in Kenya, Thailand or Bolivia, he has little trouble creating a rapport with perfect strangers. He simply walks up with an interpreter, often smoothing the way with gifts of rice or pens. "I feel comfortable with these people, as if they're part of my family," says Rivera-Ortiz, 37. "I just say 'Hi, let me snap your picture.' They almost never show any hesitancy. Being with them, I'm retracing my childhood in Puerto Rico." The focus of his new exhibit at City Hall's Link Gallery is poverty in India. The villagers and roadside vendors that he approaches stare directly into his lens. That straightforward gaze also touches something in his boyhood.“ (Cont.) — Stuart Low, Staff Writer/Critic

 

From The Stacks: UTNE Reader.com, November 17, 2006, Topeka, Kansas. “A certain level of timelessness shines through Manuel Rivera-Ortiz's photographs of Cuba. Current fashion is absent, classic cars dot the background, and the sharp contrast of the black-and-white film offers little clue that these pictures are from 2002. The photographs are just some of the pieces highlighted in issue 11.02 of Nueva Luz, the tri-annual photojournal that publishes the work of photographers of African, Asian, Latino, Native American, and Pacific Islander heritage. Commentator Margarita Aguilar revels in the featured artists' abilities to present themselves as travelers, both to ‘real, geographical places as well as imagined landscapes or distinctive spaces conjured up by their imagination.’ “— Rachel Anderson, Staff Writer

 

City Of Rochester News: ROCHESTER CITY HALL, November 20, 2006, Rochester, NY. “India," a collection of 36 images of India and its people by Puerto Rican-born photographer Manuel Rivera-Ortiz will display, Nov. 21 until Jan. 8, 2007 in City Hall's Link Gallery, 30 Church St, where the public can meet the artist during a reception, 6 - 8 p.m., Thurs., Nov. 30. Rivera Ortiz's work focuses on the poor and disenfranchised around the world. He is the recipient of the national En Foco, Inc. New Works Photography Award for his images of Cuba. His work has exhibited in galleries and publications worldwide, including Mead Living Australia. Images from Rivera-Ortiz's first ever documentary work in Kenya 2001 were recently added to the permanent collections of the George Eastman House International Museum of Photography.”—Goldee Hecht-Meyer, Curator

 

Arts & Entertainment: THE EMPTY CLOSET, "A view of India" is at Link Gallery through Jan. 8,” December 4, 2006, Rochester, NY. “Manuel Rivera-Ortiz: India, which opened Nov. 21 at City Hall’s Link Gallery, will run through Jan. 8. “Manuel Rivera-Ortiz: India” will be traveling to venues in Buffalo, in Minnesota at the William Whipple Art Gallery, New York City and abroad to Swiss Reinsurance in Zurich Switzerland and beyond, after opening at the show’s hometown of Rochester. From NYFA.ORG: “A documentarian dedicated to picturing stories of hardship and hope in the third world, New York-based photographer Manuel Rivera-Ortiz’s photos are provocative and real, marrying journalism and personal experience. “Rivera-Ortiz’s photo reportage is linked to his childhood, which he spent growing up poor in outposts throughout Guayama in Puerto Rico. With photographic heroes that include Sebastiao Salgado, Robert Capa, James Nachtwey, Dorothea Lange, Gordon Parks, and Steve McCurry, Rivera-Ortiz's work has led him to photograph people from Kenya to Cuba, Turkey to Thailand, and other places in between.” Rivera said, “I still do not sell my work as continuing proof of the purpose of it as a tool of awareness into the plight of the people around the world, and not a personal quest for grandeur as more often tends to be the case. A woman from The New York Times archives company told me that in going about it the way I am, I am clearly raising the bar on those whose intentions go no further than their lips when it comes to helping the people whom they photograph.” "Rice Over Open Fire," Ahmedabad, India. In late 2006, authorities in India passed tighter restrictions on child labor. The new law bans the hiring of children under age 14 to work in the homes of the urban, middle-class elite as maids, or in restaurants and hotels as low-paid wait staff. But whether paid or not, the children of the poor continue to toil throughout India, usually at home where they are left to care for younger siblings while in the absence of adult supervision. The girl in this photo cooks rice over an open fire in the small entryway of their one-room home for several of her younger siblings. Children like her, who do end up working in the homes of the rich, often experience physical or sexual abuse according to Indian and international child watch groups, and as reported by a member of the Indian media with whom Rivera-Ortiz spoke in Ahmedabad. Official figures suggest that there are some 12 million children under 14 working in India; activists say the number is closer to 60 million..”—Susan Jordan, Editor-in-Chief. 

 

Alumni News: COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY, Graduate School of Journalism News, December 5, 2006, New York, NY. “Manuel Rivera-Ortiz, '98, opened his latest exhibition at the Link Gallery, City Hall in Rochester, NY.  It includes 36 color images of India and its people from 2003-05.  The show will run Nov. 21 - Jan. 8.  His photos marry journalism and the very personal experience of his childhood growing up poor in outposts throughout Guayama, Puerto Rico. His award-winning Cuba work is included in the two-year traveling exhibition/publication Viajeros: North American Photographers’ Images of Cuba opening March 8—April 14 (2007) at The Centre Gallery, Miami Dade College, Wofson Campus, Miami, FL. Images from Rivera-Ortiz’s first ever documentary work in Kenya 2001 were recently added to the permanent collection of the George Eastman House International Museum of Photography in Rochester, NY.” June 5, 2006: “Manuel Rivera-Ortiz, '98, a writer turned photographer, is dedicated to picturing stories of hardship and hope in the third world which are directly linked to his own childhood spent growing up poor in outposts throughout Guayama in Puerto Rico. As one arts editor put it: “His work is provocative and real, marrying journalism and personal experience.”  Rivera-Ortiz is the recipient of the En Foco, Inc., New Works Photography Award and exhibits his images around the US.”—Irena Choi Stern, Editor

 

Mirador Cultural: EL DIARIO LA PRENSA, 2 de Abril de 2006, New York, NY. “Fotografías de Manuel Rivera-Ortiz. La galería itinerante En Foco presenta la muestra ‘Cuba’ del fotógrafo puertorriqueño Manuel Rivera-Ortiz. En el Middle Collegiate Church, 50 Este de la calle 7. Recepción inaugural hoy de 1.30 pm a 2.30 pm. Más información en (718) 584-7718, info@enfoco.org o www.cafepress.com/enfoco.” 

 

MEAD Living Australia: A MEAD HOSPITALITY Publication, Quarterly Magazine, February—June 2006, West Perth, Australia. “Many life lessons have been learnt by Manuel from growing up poor. Among them is the conviction that it is not his place, especially, to pass judgment on the world’s poor or landless through his lens. Having grown up in much the same circumstances as the people in his pictures, he understands how some would not find it agreeable if a stranger’s passing fancy included taking pictures of his family. Through this, and taking the time to interact with his subjects, he hopes to bring light to their world, and spread that light to others through his imagery.”—Ian Morin, Editorial

 

Local/State: THE MORNING CALL, Newspaper, Viajeros: Images of Cuba’ a diverse, evasive portrait of a divided nation, Rivera-Ortiz is included in this exhibition; Thurs., November 17, 2005, Lehigh Valley, PA. “…The result is ‘Viajeros (Travelers),’a collection of 142 photos and seven videos at Lehigh University, where [curator Ricardo] Viera supervises galleries and museum operations It’s a dizzyingly diverse, puzzlingly evasive portrait of a deeply divided nation, where tourists are welcome but natives aren’t welcome at tourist centers. The show essentially begins with four large, slightly ragged black-and-white photos of home shrines,