How inspirational it was to hear a lecture over at George Mason University yesterday by Sandra Ramos, a well-known Cuban artist. There has been a change in policy that allows Cuban artists like Sanda to travel in the U.S. which made this a real treat. Sandra gave a slide show titled Cuban Contemporary Art from 2000-2010. Many of the themes have to do with political and social issues such as migration, water and isolation, lack of freedom and other harsh realities of living in Cuban society. She showed some artist's images of bodegas and explained that they do not have large grocery stores in Cuba. Everyone goes to their local bodega (like a corner store) to get their rations. She mentioned several artists that try to incorporate art and society by connecting with different families and doing art-related projects for them, like painting a mural or embroidering a pillow. The galleries in Cuba are run by the government so there is a limit to what they will show. It is strange to realize that we can see controversial art works in books on Cuban art, that have never been shown in Cuba. When asked about the other arts, she said that it is hard for many of the arts because for instance if you are a poet, you need someone to publish your work and no one would take that chance. It's not the artist who gets punished, it's the publisher, or art gallery or theater who gets in trouble. In addition, Cubans do not have access to the internet so that is not a source of information or an outlet for creative expressions.
When asked what advice she would give to art students who are struggling with the issue of what subject to paint, she said that not all art should be political, art should be what is interesting to you.
Click here to see the youtube video of the Sandra Ramos Exodus show opening in Norfolk, VA at Mayer Fine Art.