Cecilia Díaz Betz

Puerto Rican artist Sofía Maldonado reflects on and experiences with public art with her project Kalaña, a work that revives an abandoned tobacco factory to give it a totally new and profitable use.

As part of the Cromática project, Caguas – in which Maldonado collaborates alongside 6 other artists to revitalize abandoned spaces -, Kalaña works with color and abstraction as tools of resurrection to serve the community of Caguas, the Puerto Rico town where it is located.

Kalaña is an epidemic of painting and color that invades the walls, ceilings, floors, façades and even debris of this enormous building turned into a very anarchic canvas to fill it with energy and vitality and prepare it to become the nucleus for the projects of the community.

The ruinous and useless building, which had fallen into disuse over time, was brought back to life by becoming an interactive art piece that houses educational workshops, documentary presentations, talks, music and even skaters and riders using pallets and internal structures as obstacles to their tricks.

The purpose of Kalaña is to study, analyze and experiment with how color and abstraction can modify the perception and use of a space. With this project, Maldonado shows that an abandoned place is activated through social interaction and the integration of the community into an artistic space that learns from the people in it. This vigorous 360° mural lends public art a meaning of service and integration.

Clearly, the work of Sofia is inspired by the energy projected by vibrant colors, but also by the Caribbean lifestyle and experience of colors and light. Kalaña‘s atmosphere invites to create motivating activities.

Pictures by Mónica Félix