What happens when you take a handful of Cuban artists in their 30’s and ask them to collaborate on one huge progressive project? You get an exhibit that shows you a side of Cuban culture you’ve probably never knew existed. All graduates from Cuba’s University of the Arts, the 15 artists reveal aspects of the human condition that are both somewhat ambiguous but also relatable. “Axiom,” meaning “self-evident truth,” is a common theme throughout the exhibit that is interpreted by each artist in their own way.
On Thursday, June 9th, the Art Museum of the Americas opened (Art)xiomas – CUBAAHORA: the Next Generation, an exhibit that takes an intimate look into the minds of contemporary Cuban artists as they reveal a side of Cuban culture often unseen by American eyes.
These pieces of “art in transformation” explore the different aspects of people moving into a new stage of life, and also reflect the way that Cuba and the United States have transformed over the past 30 years. One piece that best personifies this transformation is, They Coming by Lisandra Ramírez. Using a collage of both vintage and contemporary iconography (for example, images of retro fashion illustrations, or a picture of President Obama flying on a collaged plane), this installation shows the overlap of past, present, and future through floating modes of transportation.
When asked why this exhibit was special to her, Ramírez said, “We’re very excited to have an exhibit here in Washington D.C., because its a very new opportunity for us and we can express everything about our art.”
Many of the pieces on display mirror different aspects of a given artist’s life, such as their upbringing or the parts of the human condition that speak to them the most. A large photograph of a ballerina’s bloody slippers shows the amount of sacrifice that each person is willing to give in their life. Another photo set depicts various objects pressed into someone’s skin, to show how sacred objects leave a mark on each person’s life. Each piece of art is so different from the next, yet the overall theme brings the exhibit together in a cohesive manner.
What was most interesting about the exhibit was the attention to detail that was part of each and every piece. From insanely intricate line work, to an entire room filled with thousands red, white, and blue thread hanging from the ceiling, the time and effort that was put into each installation speaks for itself.
I thought the exhibit was so cool that I posted snapchats of my tour through the entire exhibit to my snapchat story. After watching my story, a friend was so intrigued she decided to see it for herself later that same day.
In other words, this exhibit speaks to more than just good art — it’s a way to see Cuba from a different perspective. As communications and ties with Cuba begin to progress, this exhibit gives you a head start on taking a closer look at a culture that has been hidden from American culture for quite some time. If you don’t want to book a flight to Havana after going through this exhibit, you probably did it wrong.