Artists collaborate on book celebrating their ‘abuelas’

Artists collaborate on book celebrating their ‘abuelas’
Photo by Laura Stone

A local author and photographer have combined their respective talents to create a new collaborative project.

On Thursday, December 8, Bronxites Peggy Robles-Alvarado and Daisy Arroyo hosted the launching of ‘The Abuela Stores Project’ at the Bronx Museum of the Arts to promote the release of the new book.

‘The Abuela Stories Project’ is an anthology of 14 women writers, all Bronx-born and some of whom are grandmothers themselves , expressed through photography, poetry and writing.

The book covers all aspects and experiences in the everyday life of being a grandmother in the Bronx. Many of these heart wrenching stories describe an anything-but-average abuela’s involvement in art, dance and music, contrary to the typical cooking, knitting and rocking chair stories we are all used to hearing about.

Many cultures are covered in the compilation, including grandmothers who come from Afro-Latina, Jewish-Latina and Portuguese decent, among other origins.

The book launch also including an art installation piece, where the writers contributed items that related to either being a grandmother or having a grandmother in their lives, along with poetry readings and performances by the writers.

The book is 124 pages and contains 50 pictures – and makes for a great coffee table book, according to Peggy.

“I always wanted to put these stories out there – to show readers just how multifaceted grandmothers are and the roles they’ve played and continue to play in our lives,” said Robles-Alvarado, who became a grandmother five years ago. “Putting this project together was both an amazing journey and a great challenge – and I would like to thank Daisy (Arroyo), Bronx Museum of the Arts, Bronx Council on the Arts and everybody else who played a part in releasing this book.”

Having her first kid when she was only a teen, Robles-Alvarado has faced multiple challenges and obstacles in her life – but that has not deterred her from the path of success.

“My parents taught me that education is what gets you paid – and they always drove that point home,” she said. “I’ve always loved challenges – and no matter how difficult the situation, I’ve always told myself that I would get through it and figure it out.”

Robles-Alvarado, who applied for a grant through Bronx Council of the Arts for this project, met local photographer Daisy Arroyo at the Bronx Museum of the Arts’ in 2013. After initially hitting it off, the two decided to collaborate on a project combining writing and photographer.

Three years later, the project has come to fruition.

“Peggy is a firecracker – she continues to amaze me with all the work that she’s done. She is someone who has so much to offer, someone who is not afraid to share the spotlight and it’s an honor to have worked on this project with her,” said Arroyo, a lifelong Soundview resident who focuses primarily in fine arts photography, along with fashion, portrait and street photography for her many works.

“The Bronx has so many beautiful and talented artists – and it’s important for people to know that there is a lot of creativity taking place here here,” she added. “I’m very proud to be an artist from the Bronx.”

Books were available for purchase at the book launch. For those who would like to purchase a copy, the book is available on Create Space and Amazon.

In June, Peggy was named one of the Bronx Times’ 25 Influential Women for her success as an author, poet and teacher.