About Cemi Threads
Cemi Threads is a website created by artist Luis Cordero Santoni. With this website we strive to create cultural awareness with designs that inspire cultural pride among the Puerto Rican community.
About Luis Cordero Santoni
Cordero is a graphic artist born in Mayaguez, Puerto Rico and currently residing in Yonkers, NY. He has been very active in the Puerto Rican community in NYC for many years and has volunteered his time and skills to many organizations.
In 2015, he and several other artists founded the Puerto Rican Institute for the Development of the Arts, PRIDA which has distinguished itself as one of the few organizations advocating for the rights of the Puerto Rican artists.
PRIDA’s mission: to promote and provide support for the Puerto Rican artists and the arts.
As a graphic artist Luis designs, produces and sells his own line of tee-shirts with Indigenous Taíno and other Puerto Rican cultural icons. He has made several travels to the Caribbean to photograph Taino rock carvings. He is currently studying printmaking and is developing several works using printmaking techniques. He has showcased his artwork in several exhibitions in NY.
He worked 19 years as a graphics specialist on the MTA transportation project East Side Access where he was often called upon for construction photography.
He is also a painter, publisher and producer of theater, television and film.
In 2007 Luis founded Cemi Underground, a bookstore/gift shop located in East Harlem. This became a center of cultural activity as each week saw poetry readings, book signings, films, comedy shows and other cultural events.
Since 2006 he has been on the Board of Directors of Comité Noviembre and produced and coordinated Comite’s Noviembre Puerto Rican Artisan Fair, one of the largest Puerto Rican artisan fair outside of Puerto Rico.
In 1998 he was a co-founder of Centro Cultural Puertorriqueño de Nueva York and was elected to its Board of Directors at its founding assembly. Luis served as Vice-President, was Founder and Editor of the organization’s newsletter (Gúatu) and designed and maintained its website.
Luis was also a member of Bronx based Community Coalition in Defense of Puerto Rican & Hispanic Rights in the 1980’s. This organization had chapters and members throughout the city and was constantly pressuring New York City Mayor Ed Koch to stop the closing of city hospitals, fire houses and to provide more services, not less, to the minority communities.
The 1970’s were a period of intense activities in the Puerto Rican community. There was much activity on the college campuses with students eager to make a difference in the community. This was a period when the impact of the Young Lords Party was at its height and students were actively seeking to get involved in their community and the Puerto Ricans in particular were looking to insert themselves in the independence struggle in Puerto Rico. Boricuas Unidos, a student club at CCNY, was a rallying point for Puerto Ricans looking to integrate into the social movements of the time. While at Boricuas Unidos Luis joined the student group Frente Estudiantil Puertorriqueno (FEP) which was actively organizing Puerto Rican students and teaming up with others to demand more government support for minority students looking to get a higher education. FEP was the student arm of El Comité-MINP a community based organization based in the Upper West Side that was a part of the progressive movement for social change in the city of New York and their ultimate goal was to create a socialist society. He was member of El Comité until its break up in 1980. This was an organization, mostly of Puerto Ricans, determined to overthrow the capitalist system. To be a member meant to be highly disciplined and committed to what you believe in. Luis credits this organization for the disciplined and determined person that he is today.
When he was at City College, from 1974 to 1982, Luis was active in the Puerto Rican student club Boricuas Unidos and eventually became its president in 1978. This club would produce many cultural events for the student body and by learning more about Puerto Rican culture he developed a greater love for it.
I am inspired to create by the richness of my culture. We can draw on our African roots to create dances and rhythms that can move people out of their seats and into another world. We can draw on our Spanish/European roots to create literature to inspire the world. We can draw on our Native roots to create graphics that had never been seen before. It amazes me when I think of what a small island Puerto Rico is, with so few people yet our artists have created art that can stand side by side with artists in any part of the world...