Sophie Rivera Photographed New York Puerto Rican Lifestyle

When Sophie Rivera died earlier this yr, we shed a fearless and groundbreaking photographer whose enthusiasm for self-discovery was unparalleled. As a freelancer in the 1970s, and as a female of Puerto Rican descent, Rivera actually had to “hustle” for assignments, claimed Dr. Martin Hurwitz, her partner of 60 decades. She was an early founding member of En Foco, a pictures workshop turned nonprofit arts business started by a team of photographers who have been also Nuyorican, or Puerto Ricans residing in New York. She is ideal recognized for her Nuyorican portrait series and her radical self-portraiture.

Hurwitz fulfilled Rivera at Orchard Beach in the Bronx in 1961. “She had a camera when we fulfilled she took some shots, but she worked as a tummy dancer at the time,” he said. When she realized that stomach dancing wasn’t likely to be her comprehensive-time job, she segued into photography.

“Photography gripped her,” Hurwitz reported. “She began using pics of anything, the community. She was my spouse, but she was unbelievably talented also. She labored seriously challenging at it. She was a good citizen, good artist, and we loved every single other.”

Today, Rivera’s perform is in museums including the Smithsonian and the Brooklyn Museum, galleries, and private collections all over the earth. Rivera also practiced street images, getting pictures of Latino citizens and neighbors in her Morningside Heights neighborhood. As a road photographer, she was eclectic and unbiased. She could also be important of her friends in the images earth, lots of of them white men.

“One of the factors that she’s important for, she was a true feminist,” stated Cecilia Fajardo-Hill, an artwork historian and impartial curator of over 30 a long time and a winner of Rivera’s operate.

“I never truly know as significantly work as highly effective as hers,” reported Fajardo-Hill. “Her most significant get the job done is particularly personal, about herself and about Martin and about the entire body. In her Rouge et Noir series, she celebrates women’s bodies by way of these even now lifes, even when they are a even now lifetime of a toilet bowl. I think that the way she beautified this is significant.”

Of the Rouge et Noir series, Marcela Guerrero, an assistant curator at the Whitney Museum of American Art, claimed that Rivera “granted viewers a new vocabulary of abstract photography that is at after feminist, conceptual, and revolutionary.” Her self-portraiture “is virtually her overall body: She is the possessor, agent, and object of her have pictures.”

“We just cannot just feel of the photographs we have to consider of the artists at the rear of the visuals. And she was a grasp of photographic artwork,” said Fajardo-Hill. “She’s left us with this iconography that has left us with the magnificence of Nuyorican people today [and] the natural beauty of the system.”