Erika Morillo —Coney Island
I will always fall short when trying to explain my love of Coney Island. But to put it simply, in this place I revert to a childlike wonder and joy akin to those experiences that change you inside. I was born and raised in the Caribbean and in this sense, warm weather and the ocean feel like a coming home. But I also have a profound love for urban environments, especially New York City, where I discovered who I am, the place where I came of age. Coney Island harmoniously embodies both these aspects of my roots and walking its crowded and picturesque sandy shores peppered with people from all walks of life, I feel no need to choose.
My son basking in the sun under the greenish water, the vanilla ice cream we always share afterward, Nathan’s onion rings, walking until we are under the boardwalk and can sing the song to play it tribute. Observing people seeking respite at summertime, being inspired by their grandeur, their loudness, their fading tattoos. To be lost in the moment and to become fully present. To experience a place with no urgency for refinement or cleanliness and that is yet so strikingly beautiful. To be in awe but never overwhelmed…these are the gifts Coney Island keeps on bearing.
Born and raised in the Dominican Republic, Erika Morillo is a freelance artist and educator based in New York City. She studied clinical psychology and sociology, which influenced her to photograph as a way to understand her family dynamics and the social environment she inhabits. Her work focuses on the issues of family, the finding of identity, and exploring the photobook as an art object. Her photographs have been published and exhibited nationally and internationally and her photobooks are in the collections at the Whitney Museum of American Art Library and The International Center of Photography Library. She is an MFA candidate at Image Text Ithaca.