Nadia Liz Estela


for we are made of boats.

we are made of trees

    made of water

    made of joy

    made of river currents 

     island’s breeze.

for we are made of long gone memories

of hot sizzling plantains off the skillet that burn the roof of your mouth.

            made of skin.

            made of songs that hold our ancestors spirits

      made of gifts we’ve long given away

for we are made of hopes.


for we are made of courage

  to leap into a concrete jungle

and bring the warm bright mango walls 

and guava trees green leaves that remind us of ...

for we are an extension of her

made of ‘tings that forget how to say “carrot”

made of patties and yuca and mamey.

for we play in the snow when we want to jump into rivers.

for we are today's answers to yesterday's questions. 

for we are made of sails that never take us home.

for we are made of boats.

Nadia Liz Estela is an interdisciplinary artist born in the Dominican Republic and raised in Newark, NJ. She received her MFA from Montclair State University in 2018. Prior to that, she attended Rutgers University-Newark and Parsons at The New School for her undergraduate studies. Estela’s work examines ideas of perception and processes of seeing. Her mixed-media pieces, which often incorporate textile and sculptural elements, references the different layers of migration; from the micro of her own personal experience to the macro of the larger phenomenon of social constructionism, labor, nature, place, and memory. She keenly explores the aspects of life and society- its norms, morals, and indoctrinated labels that we know exist but do not acknowledge. It asks about the journeys that we have made both collectively and individually; how we navigate our social and cultural capital; how have we arrived here; what are the implications of our biases; how do we profit from those imbalances; and how do all these strata make a whole or keep it separate. Her work is the tableau where these contradictions visually exist on the same plane.