Leenda Bonilla - Artist

AiOP 2023: The Bata Project


Join me on October 13 - 15, 2023, for an interactive piece called "The Bata Project"  I created for the annual Art in Odd Places Fest on 14th St. 


Growing up in NYC/PR I witnessed how the bata dress worn by my mother and other maternal figures in my life equated to me the Puerto Rican adage of “Pa'lante” or “onward”, “go for it”, or “go ahead”.  Sustaining home, culture and life and seeing how this day dress emphasized the “super-shero” with all the layers of jobs that womxn executed in everyday urban living. Wearing this day dress outside home, can also meet in the center of the Venn diagram when it comes to subverting what was socially expected from our abuelas and turning it on its head.  



Photos: Lizzy Alejandro




It will be three days of fun with friends, artists, and community advocates celebrating the cultural origins and fusion of island life into NYC. Wearing this day dress outside the home brings to mind how the womxn in the Caribbean diaspora who came to the mainland were dealing with displacement from the political socioeconomic climate impacted by colonization. The goal of this project is to subvert what was socially expected from our abuelas, tias, mothers, and turn it on its head.



Photo: Leenda Bonilla


The Bata Project explores the stories of Caribbean womxn and the journey of transnationalism to sustain family, culture, and community within the local-global diaspora of NYC. Artist Leenda Bonilla invites local creatives, community advocates, educators to share their stories of their maternal figures and celebrate their homage to urban/island matriarchy wearing a “bata”, a traditional house dress, collected by Bonilla. Each day begins with a ceremonial catwalk of batas in brilliant colorful patterns/styles which leads into vignettes of dance, poetry, singing, urban folkloric games, and conversations.



“Art in Odd Places 2023: DRESS is curated by Gretchen Vitamvas with Curatorial Assistant: Tasha
Douge. Curatorial Manager: Sarah Starpoli. artinoddplaces.org”


.                        Photo: Lizzy Alejandro


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