Novelist, Poet, Painter
ABOUT: From the time her first book, Nilda, was published in 1974, Bronx-born writer Nicholasa Mohr has remained in the public eye as one of the most prominent representatives and chroniclers of the Puerto Rican experience in the United States. Ironically, she never intended to become a writer; her first passion was the visual arts and many of her paintings adorn the walls of her spacious apartment. However, from the moment she picked up a pen, Mohr "just started to write"... "I didn't realize I had so much to say," she chuckles. Mohr is acutely aware of the vibrant and multicultural environment necessary for great art to emerge, noting that in El Barrio, "art is present everywhere... in the art shows, the atmosphere, the air." When she moved into the neighborhood eleven years ago, Mohr recalls that "you [could] just walk outside and say hello" to any number of artists and friends passing by on the street. Now, she says, "the neighborhood is changing... you can't walk down the street and see people you know everywhere anymore."
COMMUNITY VISIONS: Despite the enormous pace of change in the neighborhood, Mohr notes, the artistic community is still strong because of a local commitment to artistic events that draws people to the neighborhood from afar. Like many others, however, Mohr fears the consequences of rising rents in the area. While she acknowledges that “that’s the way things go in Manhattan”, she hates to think of what the neighborhood would be if fewer and fewer artists could afford to live there. “I need a neighborhood. I need my people”.