When acclaimed visual artist Daniel Lind-Ramos arrives in Sarasota on Friday to discuss his “Las Tres Marías” exhibit, which officially opens Saturday at the Sarasota Museum of Art, he will meet a unique group of art lovers.
First-grade bilingual students at Dreamers Academy, a bilingual immersion charter school in Sarasota, will enjoy a wonderful excursion to see Lind-Ramos’ work, thanks to the combined efforts of museum staff and Jackeline Maldonado Pintor, who teaches art at Académie des Rêveurs.
But there’s another element that will also make this occasion very special, and that’s the story of the heartwarming bond between Lind-Ramos and Maldonado Pintor.
Lind-Ramos and Maldonado Pintor were born and raised in the awe-inspiring countryside of Puerto Rico, far from the tourist areas of the island. Lind-Ramos hails from Loiza, a town with a rich African heritage and unique Afro-Puerto Rican identity. In fact, Loiza has the largest black population in Puerto Rico and is the birthplace of Afro-Puerto Rican music, dance, and culinary delights.
As for Maldonado Pintor, she was pursuing a science major at a college in Puerto Rico when she decided to take an art elective to fulfill her degree requirements. The class was taught by Lind-Ramos, and the profound effect it had on Maldonado changed his life – and his career ambitions.
“I never saw art as a career,” said Maldonado Pintor, “(but) I was so inspired by Professor Lind-Ramos that I completely changed my specialty.”
Both Lind-Ramos and Maldonado Pintor were deeply influenced by the devastating impact of Hurricane Maria in 2017, a tragedy that left an indelible scar in the island’s collective consciousness.
Lind-Ramos was so moved by the destruction that he sought to capture its meaning through striking and gargantuan sculptures created from materials and objects found, salvaged and collected in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria. Indeed, the “Las Tres Marías” exhibition is an example of Lind-Ramos’ brilliant vision, which is to celebrate Puerto Rico’s strong sense of community and resilience.
Meanwhile, Hurricane Maria represented a transformative moment for Maldonado Pintor: as living conditions continued to deteriorate in Puerto Rico after the hurricane, his family finally made the decision to leave the island and move to Sarasota.
Given these incredible connections between Lind-Ramos and Maldonado Pintor, it’s no surprise that when Maldonado Pintor learned that her former teacher was coming to Sarasota, she felt compelled to give her students a chance to meet him. . “(He) probably has no idea what effect he had on me as an artist and as an educator,” she said of Lind-Ramos.
That’s why it will be a highlight for Maldonado Pintor when his students visit the art museum on Friday. They will participate in a hands-on art workshop and view the “Las Tres Marías” exhibition – where they will be treated to a personal tour and art lesson, taught in English and Spanish, by Lind-Ramos.
“We look forward to sharing this with our students,” said Maldonado Pintor.
The Sarasota Art Museum is an education platform and its mission is to develop an appreciation and understanding of the art of our time. The museum is housed in Sarasota’s historic First High School, which coincidentally was run for years by Dan Kennedy, a founding board member of Dreamers Academy.
And that makes it the perfect place to showcase the engaging art of Daniel Lind-Ramos, who – with his impactful work as an educator – reminds us of the power of the human spirit to inspire young minds.
Geri Chaffee is the founder of Dreamers Academy in Sarasota. She is also president of PDO.org and host of “Por Nuestros Niños”, a radio show and podcast.