Artists from Havana and Miami to take part in multi-year cultural exchange

A group of Cuban-American artists with Miami ties will travel to Havana in May to meet with their Cuban counterparts, launching a multi-year conversation and exchange of ideas in both cities.  Supported by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and Miami entrepreneur and art collector Jorge M. Pérez, Dialogues in Cuban Art is seeking to broaden an understanding of Cuban art beyond notions of nation and diaspora and to generate new perspectives on the production of art on the island and in South Florida.

In a series of panels, studio visits and discussions that will take place in Miami and Havana in 2015-16, the artists will be addressing a series of questions: What are some of the cultural continuities, and differences among Cuban and Cuban American artists? How does cultural identity manifest itself in the visual arts? And, how can opportunities for mutual understanding shape and inform cultural production?

“I’m motivated by the fact that my generation, as well as those that follow have not had the opportunity to explore what Cuba means for them on their own terms.  The idea of Cuba for us has been both shaped and burdened by the experience of others – our parents, politicians, and the very narrative of history. It has been enormously difficult for us to have our own lived experience there, which I strongly believe can better inform who we are as bicultural subjects,” said Elizabeth Cerejido, the project’s organizer and an independent curator and researcher who has worked extensively with Cuban and Cuban-American artists. “When I was granted that experience during a cultural program in 2002, it marked a turning point in my life.  I learned first hand the profound impact and long-lasting value that a meaningful people-to-people exchange can have on Cubans from both sides of the Florida Straits.  My aim is to similarly facilitate a platform through a cultural program that emphasizes debate and the exchange of ideas among artists and other cultural producers – there and here.”

The inaugural group of Cuban-American artists were invited to participate because they had not visited the island or had been involved with the cultural sector there– or if born there had not returned. They include: Ruben Millares (b. Miami, 1980); Manny Prieres (b. Madrid, 1972); Bert Rodríguez (b. Miami, 1975); Leyden Rodríguez Casanova (b.  Havana, 1973); Juana Valdés (b. Havana, 1965); Marcos Valella (b. Miami, 1981) and Antonia Wright (b. Miami, 1979).

Miami-based videographer Carlos Ochoa and writer Mia Leonin will accompany the group as project documentarian and journalist.

The initial visit to Havana will take place May 27 – June 5.  Casa de las Americas will host the Dialogues in Cuban Art program participants for a two-day symposium.

The Cuban artists, who are chosen by members of the organizing teams in Miami and Havana will visit South Florida in fall/spring 2015-2016 and will be hosted by Florida International University’s Cuban Research Institute as cosponsors of this project. The exchange will culminate in an exhibition in both cities featuring artistic collaborations among the participating artists, co-curated by a Cuban curator and Cerejido and presented in venues in both cities.

Cerejido said that the exchange also will highlight the importance of Miami in the production of Cuban art, a focus that has seldom been recognized in Cuba.

Contact: Elizabeth Cerejido, 305-519-3809 cerejido@yahoo.com