I Am New York: Juan Rodriguez

graphic illustration by Delano Franklin

graphic illustration by Delano Franklin

 I Am New York: Juan Rodriguez is a new origin story for NYC, written by Maija Garcia and Armando Batista.  A theatrical production with live music and dance, I Am New York is in development as a graphic novel and curriculum.

Directed by Maija Garcia

Composed by Daniel Roumain

Set Design by Roberto Visani

Costume Design by Carlton Jones

Graphic Novel illustrated by Crystal Clarity

I Am New York: Juan Rodriguez transports readers and audiences to a seminal moment in New York history to meet New York’s first immigrant- a mixed race man from La Hispaniola who arrived in Mannahatta on a Dutch ship in 1613, defended his freedom and established his own trade.  Organic Magnetics presents Juan Rodriguez as a significant historical figure who shaped the cultural landscape of New York City.  OM offers cultural programming – staged readings and interactive workshops – to engage communities in cross cultural dialogue.  A graphic novel version of the play is currently in development.

Cultural Programming

Organic Magnetics’ educational curriculum is designed for young artists to explore devised theater and engage cross-cultural dialogue through interactive workshops and forum discussions on hybrid identity in American culture.  Programming is best accompanied by a staged reading or live performance of I Am New York: Juan Rodriguez.

Theatrical Production

An origin story with live music, travel back in time to meet New York’s first immigrant.  The audience enters an immersive visual and sonic installation sampling African, European and Native American expressions from the seventeenth century.  The Narrator – an immortal character whose mysterious identity evokes magical realism – tells the story of Juan Rodriguez, a child of chance born of cultural collision.  We meet Rodriguez in Santo Domingo as he boards a Dutch trading ship heading north.  When adversaries challenge Juan, he defends his freedom, and chooses to stay on the island of Mannahatta, and demands payment for his services to establish his own trade.  I Am New York: Juan Rodriguez premiered on May 28, 2014 in the historic Heckscher Theater at El Museo del Barrio with generous support from The Shelley and Donald Rubin Foundation.



Follow I Am New York @IamNewYorkJR   #IamNY

photo: Bob Krasner

photo: Bob Krasner



April 18th, 2015


Super Sabado 

at El Museo del Barrio




NBC Latino Journalist Raul A. Reyes reports on I Am New York: Juan Rodriguez at El Museo del Barrio.

Fox 5 Co-creators Maija Garcia and Armando Batista are interviewed on Good Day Street Talk.

Public Radio International Cultural curator and correspondent Von Diaz’ interview with Maija Garcia & Armando Batista was featured on NPR’s Public Radio International.

Daily News  In 2012 a strip of Broadway in upper Manhattan was co-named Juan Rodriguez Way.  OM hosted the first reading of I Am New York at the Malcolm X. & Dr Betty Shabazz Center.

Help us share Juan’s story with future generations.  
 OM needs support in the development of a graphic novel.

Make a tax-deductible donation today!

Organic Magnetics is a sponsored project of Fractured Atlas, a non-profit arts service organization. Contributions for the purposes of Organic Magnetics must be made payable to Fractured Atlas and are tax-deductible to the extent permitted by law. 


 @IamNewYorkJR #IamNY


Armando Batista and Maija Garcia - I am New York

Armando Batista & Maija Garcia discuss the work

“This is an opportunity to reclaim the origin story of New York City” says Maija Garcia, the play’s director. “Recognizing Juan Rodriguez as the first immigrant on the island of Mannahatta challenges a dominant paradigm- that Europeans got here first.  Juan Rodriguez is the embodiment of multi-cultural America.”

“We are creating an urban legend that reflects the diversity of our city.  I grew up in Washington Heights, so the naming of Broadway as Juan Rodriguez Way hits home for me.” Armando Batista first played Juan Rodriguez in Organic Magnetics’ production of Ghosts of Manhattan: 1512-2012, an interactive history at Fort Tryon Park.  He learned about Rodriguez from a 2011 exhibit Nueva York at El Museo Del Barrio. 

Organic Magnetics is a cultural arts organization that produces interactive live installations and theater arts education; Binding creativity and sustainability to generate urban folklore for the future. 

contact: om@organicmagnetics.com