ARCHIVES OF CONCIOUSNESS – CUBA IN CONNECTICUT
The Fairfield University art museum in Connecticut will host the work of prestigious plastic artists from the last 30 years in Cuba under the exhibition title Archives of Consciousness: Six Cuban Artists
Featuring works by internationally renowned artists, this exhibit explores the mythologies of liberation and fulfillment promised by modern life, as well as the peculiar challenges they represent for island Cubans who must navigate Cuba’s contradictory system of combining capitalism with Communist rule, since the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991.
Through sculpture, painting, photography and mixed media, artists Roberto Diago, Manuel Mendive, Eduardo (“Choco”) Roca, Abel Barroso, Mabel Poblet and Luis Enrique Camejo interrogate the ways that consumerism, migration, patriarchy and the legacies of slavery shape the definitions and differential experiences of freedom that 21st- century technology affords all of us. Yet these works anchor the viewer in deeply Cuban locations of consciousness, revealing how austerity and sacrifice, self-reliance and dependence, fear and valor, joy and anguish reflect central principles of survival in a society where egalitarian dreams have long clashed with scarcity, poverty and painful political realities.
In Mendive’s mixed media sculptures and vivid paintings that evoke the spiritual world of Regla de Ocha (the slave-born religion better known as Santería) as well as Mabel Poblet’s deceptively iconic images of feminine beauty in objects made from recrafted photographs, Archives of Consciousness draws on culturally specific worlds of feeling to create visually stunning dialogues of wisdom and understanding.
Like Poblet’s oceanscapes, Luis Enrique Camejo’s vast underpopulated urban landscape paintings, punctuated with antiquated cars, convey a sense of isolation and longing for the world beyond. The daily struggles of Cubans to claim the right to both knowledge and leisure are painstakingly documented in Abel Barroso’s whimsical, hand-carved wooden sculptures and intricate collages.
Roberto Diago’s highly moving spiritual and abstract works often made up of cloth fragments woven together draw upon the complexities of his Afro-Cuban heritage and the embedded history of racism and slavery in Cuba. Addressing similar themes, master printmaker Choco summons intensity in colorful sculptures and collagraphs that document how political scrutiny and an exclusionary gaze haunt and historically define the limits of identity and personal freedom for all Cubans, but most especially for those of African descent.
This exhibition was curated by Dr. Lillian Guerra, University of Florida, Gainesville, and Dr. Arianne Faber Kolb. Drawn from the collection of Terry and Steven Certilman, the works of these six artists open up a living archive of thoughts and aspirations, enabling us to reflect on the essences and emotions that make up the paradoxes of life, and the strength that comes from their exploration. The faculty liaison and exhibition programming collaborator for this exhibition was Dr. Michelle Farrell.
Fairfield University Art Museum
Walsh Gallery, Quick Center for the Arts
Lillian Guerra - Curator