On Both Sides of the Lens: Documenting The Puerto Rican Diaspora

The Center for Puerto Rican Studies at Hunter College (CENTRO), the largest university-based research institute, library, and archive dedicated to the Puerto Rican experience in the United States, invites photographers to submit their original works for the first iteration of On Both Sides of the Lens: Documenting the Puerto Rican Diaspora. CENTRO’s archives demonstrate the longstanding support and stewardship of photographic collections and in honor of the 50th Anniversary, CENTRO is seeking to record and present the broad scope of photography documenting the Puerto Rican diaspora being made today. Following in the tradition and commitment of photographers like Frank Espada, Hiram Maristany, Sophie Rivera, Charles Biasiny-Rivera, Roger Cabán, Felipe Dante and many more, documentary photographers have brought representation, awareness, and understanding to our communities while telling our stories.  

Ten selected artists will be included in a virtual exhibition, photobook, in the CENTRO digital gallery for future generations, and receive a stipend of $750. Select artists will also be invited to submit their profile to the Diasporican Art in Motion initiative. 


Applications Open Monday, April 8, 2024

Applications Close Friday, May 31, 2024 at 11:59PM ET

Selected artists are notified Mid-June


Documenting the Diaspora is open to all photographers aged 18 years and over who identify as being of Puerto Rican descent, and whose photos depict the experience of the Puerto Rican diaspora*. Examples of subject matter include but are not limited to events, people, spaces, daily life, movements, activism, cultural expressions, etc. Open to any and all still artworks created with a camera in the last 5 years (2019-2024). No synthetic or artificially-generated images are allowed, and no use of artificially generative fill is allowed. Any use of generative AI will automatically disqualify the entry from the contest.

* Diaspora is defined as the dispersion or spread of a people from their original homeland (Oxford).I.e. “The Puerto Rican diaspora has spread across the United States”

Submission Guidelines:

Artists may submit up to 3 works for consideration. Artworks should be submitted via the application form and will not be accepted via any other method. Images should be high resolution (at least 300 dpi) and include all required information. Incomplete or incorrect submissions will not be considered. Applications will be reviewed and selected by a jury of invited art professionals and Centro staff. 

By submitting to this open call, the artist certifies that the information is complete and accurate and that all artworks included are their original artworks. Decisions made by the jurors are final and no feedback will be provided following artist notification. Submission grants to The Centro de Estudios Puertorriqueños (“CENTRO”) of Hunter College, City University of New York, 695 Park Avenue, New York, New York, 10065; a non-exclusive, non-assignable, and right to use, reproduce, and distribute for this copyrighted work for educational, research, and promotional purposes for the Documenting the Puerto Rican Diaspora project only. The author retains all other rights in the Work and any derivative work, including without limitation, the right to use, copy, sell, license, and distribute copies of the Work in all markets. Any commercial or for-profit use of the Work, its derivative, in all formats and media expressions including electronic by CENTRO is prohibited without prior written approval of the Author, his heirs, estate or assigns. CENTRO will identify the artist in the credit line of its website as the author and/or owner of the Works and will state that any use, copying or downloading of the Works for commercial purposes without my (our) prior written consent is prohibited and is illegal under U.S. copyright laws. 

Questions about submitting? Reach out to diasporican.arts@hunter.cuny.edu

CENTER for Puerto Rican Studies:

The CENTER for Puerto Rican Studies (CENTRO) at Hunter College, City University of New York, is a research institute dedicated to the study and interpretation of the Puerto Rican experience in the United States by producing and disseminating relevant interdisciplinary research and collecting, preserving, and providing access to archive and library resources that document their history and culture. CENTRO seeks to link scholarship with social action and political debates, and contribute to the enrichment of Puerto Rican studies.

CENTRO is dedicated to the comprehensive collection of data, graphic arts, and library and archival resources that document the history and legacy of Puerto Ricans in the United States, to the study of critical and relevant social issues and conditions affecting this culturally diverse nation. for the purpose of promoting effective community and public sector interventions, and supporting the intellectual and educational advancement of young scholars.

CENTRO’s Puerto Rican Diaspora Archives contain more than 5,000 cubic feet of materials and include documents from artists, writers, politicians, activists, and other prominent community figures and organizations. The archives document the diversity of individuals and communities that reside in the city and have sought to focus their efforts on historically Puerto Rican enclaves such as the Lower East Side (Loisaida), East Harlem (El Barrio), the South Bronx, and Williamsburg, Brooklyn. In addition, it houses the records of the Offices of the Government of Puerto Rico in the United States, which record the migration and working conditions of Puerto Ricans from the early 1930s until the closing of their offices in the mid-1990s. and document the formation of Puerto Rican communities in neighborhoods throughout the Northeast, Chicago, and Florida, with a special concentration in New York City.

This opportunity has been made possible by the generous support of the United States Senate and House of Representatives (Senators Schumer and Gillibrand and Representative Espaillat) and the New York City Council.