From my window on New York City’s Lower east Side I could look out and see the Puerto Rican culture I encountered over thirty years ago around the same time I began photographing. One night I heard a street vendor on the corner of Avenue C and East 3 Street calling “Bacalaitos and Fireworks” Bacalaitos a fried cod fish indigenous to the island and fireworks for the 4th of July weekend. This juxtaposition became etched in my mind, an immigrant population on the streets of America.
Arlene Gottfried, born in Brooklyn, graduated from the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York, and worked as a photographer at an ad agency before freelancing for top publications, including The New York Times Magazine, Fortune, Life, and The Independent in London. Gottfried has exhibited at the Leica Gallery in New York and in Tokyo, and at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C., among others. Her photographs can be found in the collections of the Brooklyn Museum of Art, The New York Public Library, and the Maison Européenne de la Photographie in Paris. She is the recipient of numerous awards, including the Berenice Abbott International Competition of Women's Documentary Photography. Gottfried is the author of Bacalaitos & Fireworks (powerHouse Books, 2011), Sometimes Overwhelming (powerHouse Books, 2008), Midnight (powerHouse Books, 2003) and The Eternal Light (Dewi Lewis Publishing, 1999). A lecturer and a teacher, Gottfried lives and works in New York City.
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