Las voces de Maria is a multimedia project, facilitated by writer Syra Ortiz-Blanes and photographer Cameron Hart, that profiles Puerto Ricans displaced by Hurricane Maria who came to Philadelphia after the storm. Part text, part video, and part photo, Las voces de Maria hands over to Puerto Ricans the opportunity to share their stories through different tools and mediums. Evacuees sat for hours with Ortiz-Blanes and Hart, unraveling their lives inside the gray spaces of local bureaucracies – nonprofit and governmental alike – which left them homeless, distressed, and hungry. They met in hotels, cramped basements, coffee shops, and the apartments and homes of relatives, friends, and strangers. They shared their stories, often for the first time, often when no one else had asked them or even understood them.
At least 2,975 people passed away in Puerto Rico because of the hurricane, destroyed infrastructure, and government negligence. But the evacuees who came to Philadelphia also lost life as they knew it. Maria was deeply felt on both a personal and collective level. Las voces aims to reflect both the intimate and national losses. The cyclone’s survivors who are featured in the project come from all over the island and from all walks of life. Each piece provides people with the space to share their perspectives and opinions.Together, all the stories form a chorus on life before, during, and after the hurricane. This reconstruction of narratives, like the reconstruction of our island, is vital to our healing process.
Prints from the show will also be sold, and all proceeds will be donated to Puerto Rican hurricane evacuees in Philadelphia.
Las Voces de Maria is dedicated to those who left, those who stayed, and those who will come back. And to Puerto Rico, which doesn’t need to get back on its feet, because it never fell down.