It is a strange phenomenon to be completely proud of something that is the source of continual strife and anguish in my life. In 1978, my mother, a Polish woman, married my father, a Puerto Rican man, and within 6 years gave birth to the first self-proclaimed “Polaricans” in our extended family. Although I am a proud Polarican, I have never felt completely accepted in either of these communities since I am not fully Puerto Rican or Polish. As an adult I have come to a point of confrontation with my experience. I desire to know more about my heritage and to be part of both the Hispanic and Caucasian communities. However, I am often compelled to either hide or prove one side or the other of my dual ethnicity as a reaction to the racial divisions within society and within my own family.
This “passing”—pretending to be a person that I know full well is not who I am in order to be accepted by others—has allowed me to merely maintain. However, as I am at the point where I desire to fully participate in each ethnicity, I am unable to forget who I really am and the origin of all of my ancestors. This is the source of much inner conflict and is the foundation of my current body of work.
While my work has personally provided me a means with which to vent the tension and exclusion I experience, this work also presents an aspect of society that is often overlooked. Racism is a still a driving force in our culture; it dictates our political policies, our choice in those we associate with, and how we treat each other in general. It cannot be disregarded and left to thrive without confrontation from all facets of society, including the art world.
It is my sincere hope that this work which stems from my own personal experience can be translated into a broader spectrum where my encounters with both underlying and blatant racism can create an awareness of these issues in the current socio-political climate. Through this recognition I believe it is possible for society at large to alter its collective mindset in order to construct a more tolerant and liberal thinking culture.
Diane F. Ramos (b. 1984) was born and raised in Lorain, Ohio and resided there until beginning her undergraduate career at Bowling Green State University in Bowling Green, Ohio. Originally studying painting, Ramos discovered photography in her third year of her undergraduate career and devoted the rest of her studies to the newfound medium. Graduating with honors from Bowling Green State University in 2006, Ramos then opted for graduate study at The George Washington University where she would earn a Master of Fine Arts degree in Photography in the spring of 2008. During this time, she exhibited in numerous shows throughout the Washington D.C. region, including the Delaware Center for the Contemporary Arts’ MFA Biennial and Conner Contemporary Art’s Academy Show. Ramos was also a recipient of such prestigious awards as the McNamara Family Creative Arts Project Grant through the Hispanic Scholarship Fund and the Patricia M. Toel Memorial Prize through The George Washington University. Ramos currently resides in Toledo, Ohio and is pursuing a career as a working artist and an Instructor of Photography at the University of Toledo.