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June 2022

Through the lens: groana melendez’s West 176 street

Groana Melendez pt. 1
melendez, groana. West 176 Street. Brooklyn, NY: Matarile Ediciones, 2021.

The CUNY Dominican Studies Institute (CUNY DSI) Library is pleased to acknowledge the donation of the photo book West 176 Street by groana melendez. The book was donated by Martha Naranjo Sandoval who manages the small press Matarile Ediciones based in Brooklyn, N.Y. and Mexico City.

West 176 Street is the first title in a series that shows artists who are immigrants or children of immigrants in the diaspora. groana explores the space she and her relatives inhabit through a range of photographs in a three-bedroom apartment in Washington Heights that capture their everyday lives and memorable moments in time. More importantly, the pictures permit the viewer to see the pages as part of a family photo album and herself as the subject, which presents the construction and negotiation of memory in many ways. The personal photographs function as a repository of memory that allows for the unraveling and examination of sequences of links between the individual contents, contexts, and meanings of the photographs themselves and broader aspects of shared, social, political, and national identity.

Groana Melendez pt. 2
melendez, groana. West 176 Street. Brooklyn, NY: Matarile Ediciones, 2021.

groana’s own words provide meaningful context about the publication by Matarile Ediciones:

“My parents emigrated from the Dominican Republic to the United States in the 70s. In the 90s they moved to Washington Heights, a neighborhood in upper Manhattan also known as “Little DR.” They created a home in a three-bedroom apartment in a fifth-floor walk-up on West 176th Street in 1995. It was an upgrade from their previous one-bedroom two blocks away. Now as they try to move into a home with an elevator, dishwasher, and seemingly better amenities for older adults, they are facing the challenges of letting go of belongings that do not fit into a smaller space and saying goodbye to their apartment on West 176th St. This is a look back at a family staple—the first stop for relatives emigrating from the Dominican Republic—and how it’s changed over time.”

The CUNY DSI Library is delighted to add this photo book to its artist book collection and is grateful for the generosity of the donor. The photo book will now be available to users for viewing and study for generations to come. We have additional work from her 2016 solo thesis exhibition, El Nombre Mío, Ajeno, which can be found in our online library catalog.

About the artist:

groana melendez is a Dominican lens-based artist whose work explores hybrid identities through self-representation. She was 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 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. In 2015, she was a summer intern at the CUNY Dominican Studies Institute contributing to various research projects during her time with us.

For more on groana and her lens-based works. You can visit her website here and follow her on Instagram @groana.

Jhensen Ortiz, Librarian