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Julia de Burgos’s Beautiful Mosaic

By Jose B. Rivera

photo of Manny Vega waving to the crowd at the Mosaic's unveiling

East Harlem - October 27, 2006.  The likeness of Julia de Burgos now occupies East 106th Street creating not only new and wonderful art for our community, but also a place, a landmark to visit and honor our great Puerto Rican poet. Julia de Burgos, was an internationally known poet, whose heart longed for freedom for her homeland, for independence from the United States.  But she died young and broken on Fifth Avenue in 1953.

She is remembered in the beautiful mosaic created by East Harlem artist Manny Vega and through the contributions of Hope Community, Inc., J.P. Morgan Chase, Congressman Charles Rangel, East Harlem State Senator, Jose M. Serrano, Assemblyman Adam Clayton Powell, Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer, East Harlem Councilwoman Melissa Mark-Viverito, The Upper Manhattan Empowerment Zone, Mt. Sinai Hospital Center, El Museo Del Barrio, Manny Vega and the hard work and persistence of local community activists, Marina Ortiz (East Harlem Preservation) and Deborah (Debbie) Quinones. We are Blessed by this mosaic.

The Mosaic was unveiled on Friday, October 27, 2006 11:51 AM.  And it is striking and bigger than life.  Artist Manny Vega did an excellent job in creating the mosaic.  He is truly one of the most gifted artist of our community.

The mosaic is made from a type of glass tile and should last a long time.  Manny Vega said it should last a least a thousand years. 

Photographs of the Mosaic are quite stunning, but nothing takes the place of actually seeing it for yourself.  So this writer encourages you to do just that.  Come to East 106 Street between Lexington and Third Avenues (a lot closer to Lexington Avenue) to gaze upon a mosaic which honors both Julia de Burgos and the community by its very presence.  I million thanks to all those who contributed and worked hard to add this heavenly art to our community.  It’s good to receive something so wonderful every once and a while.  Thanks Marina,thanks Debbie, and thanks Manny.  JBR

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