Date of Award

Spring 6-6-2021

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Fine Arts (MFA)



First Advisor

Andrew Raftery

Second Advisor

Nicole Caruth


This is a thesis about colonialism.

When I was seven years old I interrogated my mom about the consequences of Puerto Rico achieving its independence from the United States. I remember asking her “If Puerto Rico gains its independence, would that mean that we would no longer be able to purchase apples at the store?” The warm climate prohibits apples from growing in Puerto Rico. I never liked apples, and would much rather have had oranges, but I guess that concerned me at that time. She looked at me with a funny look. With that funny look that any parent has on their face when they’re trying to explain to their seven-year old how the United States occupied colonized their country. Maybe you don’t know the look. She proceeded to kindly explain that we would most likely not run out of apples, and that gaining independence would actually mean that we could freely choose what apples we wanted to have, rather than have others govern our apple negotiations. Of course, this is a simplified version of what it means to live in a colony, but this memory always stayed with me, it guides the making outlined in this thesis.

“El suelo en duelo” is a series of writings and visual works that outline resistance tactics against colonialism in the context of the United State’s occupation over Puerto Rico. Using sand as my weapon of choice, I consider its potential to refuse legibility and transform our lived experiences through the act of play. The ground becomes an active agent, a space of resistance, and a place for mourning our histories


View exhibition online: Mariana Ramos Ortiz, El suelo en duelo

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