Our History in Stone: by Karen Mojica Franceshi Published in El Nuevo Día newspaper on September 12, 1999.

A fossil is the petrified visible print of a living entity that was caught between sediments. Not unlike what happens when we create a petrifying shell that can resist the pressures of the modern world, the fossil liberates and transforms itself through art. The external roughness that filters to the inside and mineralizes the spirit leaves a subtle trace of what we once were, visible only to an expert in the matter. To be able to free ourselves, without crumbling, an artist's loving touch is needed.

     Radamés Rivera is a man who, with his diamond cutters and chisels, transforms fossils into works of art. Years ago, his mother handed him the first of what is now a personal collection of fossils, and she witnessed the birth of an interest that has given way to art in the life of Radamés travels around the island in search of stone quarries and " ámogotesá " (stone hills) exposed by constructions, " and I look for stones" explained the artist, and added that he's trying to rescue part of this national patrimony ignored by many. " Puerto Rico is one of the few places where a piece of land can be bought with the purpose of its destruction. Many " ámogotesá" are quartered to create commercial sand, and then the flat land is used for urban development ", pointed out Radamés, who studied Arqueology in the National School of Anthropology and History in Mexico.

     According to him, very few Puertorricans understand the value of these rock formations and what is implied by the fact that Puerto Rico emerged from the seas over 49 millions of years ago. Scientific tests reveal that, by that time, the island was a part of a larger land mass, that included what is known today as the Greater and Lesser Antilles. They also show that, throughout its evolution, Puerto Rico has been covered by water on three occasions. All these geographic changes have enriched our soils and the history that may be read from them. " We even have the presence of the carsic rock, found elsewhere only in Yugoslavia ", he stated. With what he finds, memories from dozens of millions of years ago, Radamés creates clocks, necklaces, and other practical objects. "And they are 100% local ", pointed out the only artist in Puerto Rico dedicated to this tipe of creation.

     At present, Rivera is producing a webpage on the Internet, with the collaboration of the arqueologist Ricardo Alegria, and wishes to share the cumulus of information that he posseses on the subject with anyone interested. "I would like the project to be known locally first, and later make the collaborations with foreign museums ", he stated, referring to the interest shown by institutions such as the Museum of Natural History in New York and the Smithsonian in Washington. And what is his favorite anecdote?  " I go up the mountain, get involved gathering stones, and, when it's time to go, I realize I have about 500 pounds and I can't get them down ", he replied in a jovial tone. 

     His work is exhibited at Galeria Fosil Arte, of which he is the proprietor. The gallery is located in Cristo Street, #200, corner to San Francisco, in Old San Juan.


Note: You can reach Galería Fósil Arte at Tel. 787-725-4252 Cel. 787-671-4159
or via e-mail at galeriainfo@fosilarte.com - galeria1@caribe.net.