Performance as Translation in the Americas, 1964-81
Ray’s scholarship focuses on Latin American visual poetics and translation theory. Her dissertation, Performance as Translation in the Americas, 1964-81, compares the literary and performance-based translations of artists Ana Mendieta (Cuba) and Hélio Oiticica (Brazil). She frames the exilic longing which many have noted in their works within a larger arc of settler claims to American soil; an excerpt, on Mendieta as an ethnographer of Iowa University, was published as a Belladonna* chaplet.
Ray views writing as a creative locus of power—both a form of public engagement and a refuge. She currently teaches "the essay" at Columbia University. Her syllabus prioritizes black, Asian, indigenous, immigrant, fat, feminist, queer, trans, and disabled texts as necessary perspectives for our collective development; and her classroom practice integrates creative writing prompts and translation exercises. In addition to teaching at Columbia, she has instructed arts-based workshops and poetry for a spectrum of community organizations, including the beloved Poetry Project.
Ray is also a widely published poet and a freelance translator. She has published five chapbooks and artist books and a full length collection of visual poetry, (guns & butter), which Cathy Park Hong has called “bracingly brutal and gorgeous...mesmerizing, tender, vicious, chimeric.” She has translated from Spanish for many clients including the Center for Investigative Reporting.