Art installation offers hope, inspiration to residents of Puerto Rico

Colorful umbrella display floats above buildings in San Juan

By Vanessa Araiza - Reporter

SAN JUAN, PUERTO RICO - Puerto Rico's color is coming back in the form of a new art installation made entirely of umbrellas.

Hues of pink, purple and blue fill the street leading to the governor's mansion in Old San Juan, floating above the colorful buildings. 

The sight is one of the first customers see when walking out of Paul Kelly's art shop. 

He said the art installation, known as the Umbrella Sky Project, has brought people -- young and young at heart -- back to Old San Juan after Hurricane Maria. 

"Look at the smiles. That's magical. People were coming because there was something that they could reach out to. That they could cling to say you know, mira allá. There's something over there," Kelly said. 

The current installation isn't just a place for the next Instagram picture, but a symbol of how Puerto Ricans want to see their home bounce back. 

"You see them walk by and just take a breath as if, OK, this allowed us to just bring it all in and you know, we're not there yet, but we're going to be there, and it's OK to feel that again," Kelly said. 

Alfonso Fontanez traveled from Bayamon with his family to see the installation. 

"We lost our color, but it was momentarily. We are resilient people," Fontanez said. 

After the hurricane last year, black and white Puerto Rican flags began to pop up around the island. 

They were displayed as a sign of protest for some while for others, they were a sign that the storm stripped away the beauty of the island. 

A year later, those who remain on the island say the storm may have knocked them down, but it will never strip away their true colors.

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