Student Work

  • Design Studies (MA)

    Quizayra Gonzalez

    Bodegas: Praxis, Imagery, Concept

    These cramped corner stores are ubiquitous in cities like New York and Philadelphia. They seem to exist on every corner and serve a blend of languages and culture along with your breakfast sandwich. Bodegas are colorful accents in urban landscapes that capture fleeting moments of attention with their peculiar aesthetics and vow of convenience. In many areas, they act as a confluence of the city where different neighborhoods, socioeconomic classes, beliefs and cultures meet. These qualities are not specific to bodegas, but their confluence evokes an image of authentic city life that artists and designers try to capture through products, photos, and fiction. In this thesis, I consider the bodega beyond its traditional function and treat it as a vibrant assemblage of things that shapes the neighborhood while being created by it. Through a deep analysis of the material and networks that make up these small corner stores, I show the bodega as a continuous practice of social rituals and interventions. My title, “Bodegas: Praxis, Imagery, Concept,” refers to the multiple spaces the bodega inhabits as a result of co-productive processes that include various human and material actants. I use the material configuration of bodegas as a lens through which we can understand how the bodega is created by social interactions and neighborhood interventions. In doing so, I show the bodega as an integral yet contested space, and as a conceptual object whose materiality is appropriated by fashion, art, literature, and other facets of society.