Cuban Artists Featured in Cleveland, Ohio

This fall Cleveland Institute of Art (CIA) will launch The Cuba Project, a program that places Cuban artists into CIA classrooms and the Cleveland community. The project is funded mostly through the Cleveland Foundation’s Creative Fusion Program, which embeds accomplished artists from diverse cultures into cultural institutions to share ideas with the Cleveland community. Additional funding is provided by CIA.

As a part of The Cuba Project, CIA will host five contemporary, multi-generational Cuban artists as artists-in-residence during the fall and spring semesters. Through this project, the community will be introduced to a Cuban perspective on art and culture, and participate in discussions on Cuban social issues. The artists are Abel Barroso, installation artist/sculptor; Osmelvy Ortega, printmaker; Alex Hernandez, painter and video artist; Jose Angel Toirac, painter and installation artist; and Meira Marrero, art historian.

Volver a casa II (2010; engraved wood, 37x41x31.5) by Abel Barroso. Courtesy of the artist and PanAmerican Art Project, Miami, FL

The artwork of the artists-in-residence also is on display at the Museum of Contemporary Art, MOCA Cleveland, now through December 31. A spring semester symposium is scheduled for Saturday, February 11, 2012 at CIA.

“We’re delighted to host these influential artists and be a part of this very important cultural exchange. CIA and the Cleveland community are privileged to experience Cuban art and culture right in our classroom and community and we are grateful to the Cleveland Foundation for making this project possible, ” said CIA President and CEO, Grafton J. Nunes.

Untitled (from the series Puntos Cardinales), (2006; linoleum reduction and woodcut on cotton, 11.5x22.5) by Osmeivy Ortega. Courtesy of the artist and Red Trillium Press, Florence, MA

The artists will visit Villaview Community School and Hope Academy. During these visits, students will participate in art-making workshops with the artists and have opportunities to speak with them about Cuba and their careers as artists.

“Our interviews revealed that Cuban artists distinguish themselves by generation. It’s the inter-generational aspect of this project that makes this particular Cuban cultural exchange program unique,” said David Hart, associate professor of art history. “We learned that younger artists tend to respond to Cuban culture and social conditions somewhat differently than older, more established artists whose careers were established in the 1980s and 1990s.” Hart, along with CIA Assistant Professor Lane Cooper, is coordinator of the Cuba Project.

The artists were chosen to participate in the program by CIA professors, David Hart, Saul Ostrow, and Charles Tucker, while on a trip to Cuba funded by the Cleveland Foundation grant. There, the professors interviewed 44 Cuban artists with assistance from the Ludwig Foundation of Cuba, an autonomous, non-governmental institution promoting cultural exchange between Cuban artists and cultural institutions worldwide. The interviews focused on finding mid-career and emerging artists with a record of socially responsive work, the desire and qualifications to teach in a school of art and design, and the ability to engage with the community and local institutions.

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