ABOUT: “Many people came with their parents… poor, living off the land, trying to better themselves. And then they found their medium, and used it to explore their environment,” new media artist and founding member of En Foco, George Malave, explains. Born in Puerto Rico and raised in New York City, Malave has approached the immigrant experience from multiple angles in his work. “We must enter places unfamiliar to us,” he explains while giving a preview of his latest mixed-media project, a kind of virtual pilgrimage based on sketches of his dreams. Malave is also compiling a collaborative book featuring the poetry and photography of “[Latino] artists who came here and are [living] the American Dream.” Malave has done professional artistic portraits of many of the artists featured in the work; compelled by their immigrant stories, Malave reinterprets them with his own camera lens. “Once we find our passion, we kind of gravitate toward it,” he says.“My work is recording my life, my journey, in New York.”
COMMUNITY VISIONS: “The arts have a way of changing communities. And always in a positive way,” Malave states. He is excited about the prospects of the developing East Harlem community and supports new cultural projects and organizations.“You see the changes: new buildings opening up, new stores, new opportunities.” He also hopes that artists will see this period of flux as a source of inspiration; “It’s a good thing for artists to be in [El Barrio] to record all the changes that are taking place… we need more writers, more photographers, [and] video as well. ” Malave believes that the community should recognize its agency and strength as it grows. “People need to take charge of what they want to see happen. And they need good leadership.