(Oranjestad)—Yesterday morning, Clifford Rosa, president of the Rancho Foundation, along with Ana Maria Hernandez and Samuel Sarmiento, held a press conference to inform the community about the Ode to the Fisherman exhibition, which will start on June 16. As part of the celebration of Oranjestad’s 200th anniversary, which will take place next year, the Rancho Foundation has been considering different project activities, and Ode to the Fisherman is one of the initial projects they conceived in 2020, focusing on the theme of fishing in Rancho.
The Rancho Foundation, in its mission to conserve, preserve, and protect fishing and fisheries for Rancho’s fishermen, wants to further develop on that by exploring the connection between culture and art: “Culture and art are two themes that are certainly intertwined or should be intertwined in a community. In this case, we have experienced and worked hard on the Ode to the Fisherman project,” Rosa assured.
The exhibition will begin on June 16 at the Rancho Foundation itself, where Rosa emphasized the importance of this event in educating the entire community, from children to adults, about their heritage: “This is a moment for deeper reflection on an aspect of our cultural heritage: the fisherman. How he lived, how he worked, and the struggles he faced. All of this will be addressed as a theme throughout the weeks of this exhibition,” he stated.
The project has a lot of material, and there is still work to be done in terms of research, documentation, and presentation. Rosa emphasized that there is a lot of information that has been preserved but has not been shared or documented. “However, it is not easy for a family to give out family information, even for a good cause, but the research that takes place is essential for better documentation, analysis, and discussion to help the community move forward.”
Rosa expressed her gratitude to the Mondriaan Fund for the funding they received to make these types of projects possible, and which also allowed them to overcome the effects of the pandemic. She also explained that 2021 was a very challenging year, but considering the work they put into this project, they were able to prepare, deliver, and go through all the processes to obtain funding from the Mondriaan Fund.
Ana Maria Hernandez, the curator and cultural manager, local art historian, and founder of the Plataforma Aruba, a non-profit organization that creates projects for the local community by combining visual arts and collaborations between institutions and local artists, pointed out that this was an investigation where they tried to engage the Rancho community and collect stories.
“The idea behind this project was to document, present, preserve, and brings to light a part of our island’s history and cultural heritage. It is of great importance to our neighboring community of Rancho and the fishing community,” she informed.
The research has been presented through a series of blog posts on their website, www.plataformaruba.org, and on June 16, they will open another component of the project, an exhibition showcasing Samuel Sarmiento’s work. Alongside the exhibition, there will be a public program with various activities over two months, starting on that day and culminating on August 4th.
Hernandez announced that on June 24th, they will have a free guided tour of the exhibition led by her and Samuel Sarmiento. On June 29th, they will have a more extensive program celebrating Fisherman’s Day, and in July, there will be more activities that will be announced later.
With the upcoming holiday season, Hernandez indicated that it is an opportunity not only to showcase what they have but also to exchange ideas, memories, and experiences: “We all have certain connections to the fishing heritage of our island, but sometimes we don’t fully realize it. So, this project is an opportunity for all of us to see how we are related to our heritage, how everything impacts our lives. The developments in the harbor also affect us, and that’s the focus behind this public program,” Hernandez assured.
Samuel Sarmiento, a visual artist, invites the Aruba community to come and see the Ode to the Fisherman exhibition. It offers an opportunity to see ceramics, paintings, drawings related to local fishing themes and different types of marine species, fish, and people who work at sea.