May 2

Postcards from Cuba

by: Phil Asbury

Peek behind the scenes with this postcard series from our recent Art Education trip to Cardenas, Cuba. Ten students traveled from Philadelphia to Cuba with our Art Education Project Manager Phil Asbury and muralist Patricia Barrera, jumpstarting the creative process for a 6,000-square-foot mural that will symbolize developing US–Cuba relations. Half of the large mural will be painted on parachute cloth in Philadelphia, and half in Cardenas. On their first trip, the students worked with Cardenas artists to create a smaller mural. As internet service is limited on the island, we were lucky enough to get brief updates from Phil each evening.

Art Education students in Cuba. Photo by Claudia Padrón Gómez.

“Sorry for the lack of communication. I’m just getting the hang of it! Barbara’s office often has classes or is closed and wifi is spotty. Food is great, and Barbara, Isis, and Damian have been taking great care of us.

There is a small framed section of wall approximately 63 inches tall and 118 long in a newly developed section of the ACAA that is primed white. It’s a pretty extension of their gallery space, and it’ll be an outdoor lounge. We have complete artistic freedom to put something there, so we plan to redesign a bit using the kid’s drawings from photos and writings thus far, combined with the same process (collaging digitized designs referencing history, nature, etc.) from the artists here, and projecting and painting directly on that wall tomorrow night.

Patty gave a great presentation yesterday to the group explaining the Mural Arts community process—the artists were very curious and receptive! The kids are happy, jokey, excited, and engaged. There are a lot of moving parts and voices so the schedule is always changing, but we plan to keep on designing today and tomorrow firm up a design for the small wall, and project the design onto the wall tomorrow night. Finca tomorrow, beach the next day.

From our student Patric:

“We’re safe, happy, and receiving a warm welcome in Cardenas, Cuba. We’ve eaten spaghetti with ham n cheese on it. Taken a horse drawn tour in Cardenas. And looked for locations to install a small mural with local artists and collaborators. We also have been drawing and painting inspired by what we’ve seen in Cardenas.”

Much love and sunshine,
The Cuba Gang”

Art Education students in Cuba. Photo by Claudia Padrón Gómez.

“Hi All,

We went to the Cine Cardenas theater today, where we will ultimately paint our large-scale mural. We learned the history, spoke to directors, saw an Afro-Cuban folklore performance, and looked at old pictures while drinking Cuban coffee. Accompanied by Isis, a local journalist, we explored the galleries along the main strip at the Varadero beach resort. After that, we went back to the ACAA to have dinner, make art, and have the first of many computer design meetings with local artists. From breakfast at 8 a.m. until a short moment ago, it has been a long full day! We are happy, enjoying the hospitality, and looking forward to going to the clay farm and starting to create a smaller collaborative work tomorrow evening.

Saludos y abrazos,
The Cuban Bunch”

 

Cardenas, Cuba. Photo by Claudia Padrón Gómez.

“Hi All,

Today we went to the farm/clay studio called Coincidence. Artists from all over were working on different clay-based projects there. After giving us a tour, they made us a typical Cuban campesino meal with mashed pumpkin, stewed chicken and rice, beans, chicharrón, and lots of fresh veggies. They also gave us a class on throwing pots on the wheel.

When we returned, we worked with Cuban artists to figure out the composition of our small mural in Photoshop, and how to turn our reflections on Cuba into artwork that can be incorporated into the mural. The design is developing and will reference the idea of looking at Cuba through different perspectives. The frame of the mural will resemble a window, and our drawings will be collaged throughout.

Saludos y abrazos,
The Cuba Clique”

Art Education students in Cuba. Photo by Claudia Padrón Gómez.

“Hi All,

Today was rainy and we couldn’t work on the small mural, so much of the day was spent discussing concepts including the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and difficulties presented by the theater wall for the large mural, and how the design can be tweaked. We talked about the race of the figures, what the mural says about our countries/cities, and general symbolism.

There are a lot of strong opinions and very talented people, so today was mostly about letting everyone’s voice be heard and work be seen. After all of the planning meetings, we saw an artist talk followed by an awesome solo art exhibition by a local 19-year-old painter. We’ll paint tomorrow, as rain was heavy last night. We also get to finally go to the beach 🙂 Everyone is upbeat and still enjoying the food and new friends!

Much love,
The Cubans”

 

Art Education student in Cuba. Photo by Claudia Padrón Gómez.

“Hola Todos,

Today we made headway on our smaller mural at the ACAA, and we went to the beach in Varadero. Here are a few shots of this morning’s progress. The Cuban artists are working with us through tomorrow to finish it—we have a lot to do, but we should be able to complete it by tomorrow night. We’ll also have a second community meeting tomorrow following up on design concepts, looking at materials like scaffolding, and doing a small workshop on cloth installation for the larger mural.

Many more pics to follow!

Best,
The Cuban 8”

 

Art Education students in Cuba. Photo by Claudia Padrón Gómez.

“Hola Todos,

Today we painted in the rain with the Cuban artists. People here are extremely resourceful: we found some umbrellas to rig some rain coverage. We will project some text onto the wall tonight and finish the mural in the morning. In the pic below, the white resembles typical window decorations and generally represents deferent perspectives on Cuba, coming together, and planting the deep seeds of collaboration. We also trained the local artists on cloth installation. To celebrate, we ate out (everyone has grown weary of rice and beans). Check out the egg rolls and chicken fingers! Everyone is in good spirits, bonding, laughing, and grateful for this creative adventure.

Much love,
Los Cubanos”

Funding for this initiative was provided by the Hummingbird Foundation and the Winifred Johnson Clive Foundation.

Last updated: May 3, 2017

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