Portrait of Poli Marichal

The filmmaker, printmaker, and illustrator Poli Marichal was born in Ponce, Puerto Rico, in 1955. She completed a two-year exchange program at the Escola Massana, Barcelona (1976), and then studied at the Escuela de Artes Plásticas de Puerto Rico, San Juan (BA 1978), and Massachusetts College of Art, Boston (MFA 1982). Regardless of the medium, Marichal's work has consistently traversed two constant threads. One line of exploration is her interest in political, social, and environmental concerns, while the other taps into a more emotive and introspective vision of herself.

Since 1995 Marichal has mastered different printmaking techniques; she has adapted her 1950s Reprex letterpress to print linocuts, woodcuts, collagraphs, drypoints, monotypes, and mixed-media works. Currently she has merged her graphic work with animation, an area in which she began working when she lived in Puerto Rico. Marichal is lauded as one of the first experimental filmmakers in Puerto Rico, starting with films from the mid-1980s. Some of her early films include Underwater Blues (1981), Coffee Break (1987), and Los espejísmos de Mandrágora Luna (Mandrágora Luna's phantoms, 1987). In 1990 she created the installation Dilema I: Burundanga Boricua, merging animation, documentary footage, hand-painted film, and photographic slides, all projected onto a painted backdrop. The installation was, according to the artist's website, "a kaleidoscopic portrait of the Puerto Rican psyche." Her later documentary video about the origins and influence of the musical genres of bomba and plena in Puerto Rico, Son Afrocaribeño (Afro-Caribbean son, 1995), combines animation with documentary footage.

Marichal is a committed educator; she has given printmaking workshops and classes at Taller Boricua in New York, Self Help Graphics and Art in East Los Angeles, and Manhattan Beach Art Center in California, among other places. She is a founding member of Los de Abajo Printmaking Collective and a member of the Los Angeles Printmaking Society, Consejo Gráfico, and Writer's Guild of America. Marichal has been awarded a Rockefeller Media Arts Fellowship and a New Works Grant from the Massachusetts Council for the Arts, among many other honors. Her work has been exhibited in solo and group shows in the United States, Europe, Mexico, and Puerto Rico, and is held in several private and public collections, including the Instituto de Cultura Puertorriqueña, San Juan; Museo de Historia, Antropología y Arte, Universidad de Puerto Rico, Rio Piedras; Institute for Latino Studies, University of Notre Dame, South Bend, IN; Benson Latin American Collection, University of Texas at Austin; Center for Puerto Rican Studies, Hunter College, New York; Self Help Graphics and Art, Los Angeles; Los Angeles County Museum of Art; Laguna Art Museum, Laguna Beach, CA; and Orange County Museum of Art, Newport Beach, CA. She presently resides in Los Angeles.

—Marcela Guerrero

Selected Solo Exhibitions

1990 Dilema I: Burundanga Boricua, Longwood Theater, Boston (traveled)

1997 Cosmogonía personal, Liga de Arte de San Juan, Puerto Rico

2009 Sleepwalking in Los Angeles, Trópico de Nopal Gallery, Los Angeles

2014 Grabando surcos, Galeria de Arte, Universidad del Sagrado Corazón, San Juan, Puerto Rico

2016 Huerta de papel / Paper Orchard, Tonalli Studio and Gallery, Los Angeles

Selected Bibliography

Bernal, Erendira. Huerta de papel / Paper Orchard. Los Angeles: Tonalli Studio and Gallery, 2016.

Big as Life: An American History of 8mm Films. San Francisco: San Francisco Cinematheque, 1998.

Fuentes Rodríguez, Elvis. Rewind…Rewind… : Video-arte puertorriqueño. San Juan, Puerto Rico: Westernbank, 2005.

Imagen y palabra: A cien años de la Fundación de la Universidad de Puerto Rico. San Juan, Puerto Rico: Editorial de la Universidad de Puerto Rico, 2004.

Salas, Abel. "Volver, Trópico de Nopal Honors Its First Four." Artillery Magazine, July–August 2011, 52–53.