Talks in the Cuban Art

The conversation with Elizabeth Cerejido, organizer of the Dialogues in Cuban Art project, that is explained as a week-long artist exchange that took place in Havana last year and Miami this spring. Cerejido described the exchange on a more personal and private level, while she’s looking for the project’s next phases.

She talked about activities scheduled for the Havana group in Miami this spring, and gave an explanation of a studio visit.

They made a visit with Maria Martinez-Canas. Ceredijo claims that she is one of the most important artists in Miami. She has numerous awards that were given to her by galleries and museums all around the world. Her work is deeply connected with Cuban history, and whose cultural identity is profoundly Cuban American.

They had a merging of various narratives that everyone shared, in different ways though. There was a common interest to everyone, artists and cultural producers but also as Cubans.

María provided a highly, well-organized presentation about her work and progress. She showed her collage negatives from which she printed out much of her famous work from the 1990s, like the Totems.

She also showed some materials from the Jose Gomez Sicre collection, which she is in the process of documenting. There were also some photographs and letters that fascinated the group.

Her typical day goes about something like this: The bus would wait for the group outside the hotel at 9 a.m. sharp. She claims that even though gathering people can be fun it can also be really stressful. Sometimes their work would last until late in the night.

She gave one day as an example. There was a tour that was led by Cesar Trasobares that included visits to public art works that have become highly popular in Miami, such as Ed Ruscha permanent installation at the main library that is situated in downtown of Miami and Claes Oldenburg that is also in the same area. Cesar is an ex executive director of Metro Dade’s Art in Public Places Program, and he would talk to the group about the inside stuff that happens in the program, where do funds come from, and discussed the political and logistical issues that happen.

After downtown Miami, they would go to Little Havana and have lunch at a traditional Cuban cafe, El Rey de las Fritas (Many didn’t now what a frita was it’s part of Cuban exile cuisine.).

And then they would end up at the Cuban Memorial Boulevard. Cesar talked about Ana Mendieta’s work that is carved on one of the boulevard’s ceiba trees, he would also put her in work in the context of the politically filled space in which it’s situated. Casa del Preso Politico is close to the boulevard we were next to, that’s the place where Afro-Cubans leave their offerings- at the base of that very ceiba tree, or the statue of a Virgin that is not that far away from the tree. That particular area witnesses Cuban painful political history.

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