El Flamboyán, or "Flame Tree"
Art, Puerto Rican
Trees in art
Jíbaro (Puerto Rican identity)
Flowers in art
This beautiful canvas of “El flamboyan” was brought in by a New Britain local and although it is not the native tree, it’s one of the most beautiful and recognizable trees across the island. This beautiful and umbrella like tree originated in Madagascar and is a species of the flowering plants. It has been planted in many tropical regions around the world, including Puerto Rico brought by the Spaniards. The showy flowers are appealing but for Puerto Rican’s, this tree is a symbolic tree which symbolizes pride, hope, and rest. The tree grown on the tree can be red, orange or yellow but the red flowers presented in the picture are called “Delonix Regia” which happens to be Puerto Rico’s national flower and are commonly grown on this tree. The large, green leaf-look alike shown on the tree is actually a seedpod that can hold up to 50 seeds. They are green in the painting because they are fresh but as they mature, the pods turn brown. Also, noticed in the painting is a gentleman with 2 cows. Since origin of this artifact is Puerto Rican, the gentlemen would be refered to as a “Jibaro” or in English “Mountain People”. Jibaro’s were men that worked and lived in the countryside (Center) of Puerto Rico. They weren’t wealthy nor well educated but they had natural wisdom and knew how to work in the soil and milk cows. In the past, the jibaro’s were mocked but today, a jibaro is historic for the Puerto Rican culture.
All in all, this canvas was given to Awilda from her sister to remind her of where she came from, her roots, her homeland. Awilda’s family moved to New Britian in the early 1960’s and misses Puerto Rico dearly. She brought it in to share at the History Harvest event to show everyone the importance that this canvas means to her and her family. This painting expresses so much history and meaning, from the flamboyant tree to the traditional farmer. This farmer is one of many farmer whom cultivated the island from the start and the beautiful flamboyant tree is a wonderful connection to the homeland. History gets lost all the time and everyday but this canvas should be an example to not only the Puerto Rican community, but to all the Latino’s to remember where they came from or what their ancestors did. The unity and joy that nature gives the people to keep moving forward. This canvas allows others to connect within each other on the same interest. Puerto Rico nature still exists and is defined by earlier generations as seen in “El Flamboyan”. When people see “El Flamboyan”, it should give hope and joy them after what Hurricane Maria did to Puerto Rico just as it does to the owner. Hopefully, Puerto Ricans will again see their island just as it was before the devastation and Joy that they can still remember their tree, their flower, and their farmers conserved.
Glasser, Ruth. My Music Is My Flag: Puerto Rican Musicians and Their New York Communities, 1917-1940, Berkley: University of California Press, 1997.
Henri, Alain. “Flora of Puerto Rico and Adjacent Islands: a Systematic Synopsis,” in Flora of Puerto Rico and Adjacent Islands: a Systematic Synopsis, edited by Liogier and Luis F. Martorell. [n.p.]: De La Universidad, 2000, p. 74.
Roulet, Laura. Contemporary Puerto Rican Installation Art: the Guagua Aérea, the Trojan Horse, and the Termite. [n.p.]: Editorial De La Universidad De Puerto Rico, 2000.