New exhibition highlights Cuban-American art


The Lowe Art Museum and the Cuban Heritage Collection are teaming up for the first time to present an exhibition showcasing Cuban-American art of the 1980s.

The Lowe Art Museum takes the community back to the 1980s, a decade defined as an incubator for a new wave of Cuban-American art. The latest exhibition, “Radical Conventions: Cuban-American Art of the 1980s,” on view through June 12, explores the impact of Cuban-American art during this period when Cuban exiles settled everywhere in the United States, and more particularly in Miami.

“This exhibition looks at a particular historical moment – ​​the 1980s – and places the work of several generations of Cuban-born artists living and working in the United States against the social and political landscape that defined this period,” explained Elizabeth Cerejido, Esperanza Bravo of Varona Chair of the Cuban Heritage Collection.

She added that the exhibition showcases the work of artists, expressing in their own way the broad issues of this pivotal decade, which included HIV/AIDS, identity politics, culture wars, postmodernism, the Mariel boat lift and the Reagan era. conservatism.

“What you will discover is a true plurality of voices exploring issues, both personal and political, and responding to these broader socio-economic, political and cultural trends,” said Jill Deupi, director of the Lowe Art Museum. “It’s fascinating to see how a diverse group of artists respond very differently to some of the most pressing issues of the time.”

One of the significant aspects of this exhibition is that it is the first major collaboration between the Lowe Art Museum and the Cuban Heritage Collection.

“This collaboration gives us the opportunity to tell a different story and showcase the work of artists who haven’t received the attention they deserve,” Cerejido explained. “The exhibition challenges assumptions not only about what Cuban-American art is, but also about who should represent it.”

The works chosen by the curator, Cerejido, reflect the variety of identities that these artists personified.

“The majority of the artists in this exhibition identify or identify as gay. Many died of AIDS-related complications, were inspired by Afro-Cuban religious practices, and were politically and socially liberal, challenging the notion that Cuban Americans are largely conservative, Catholic, and straight,” Cerejido said.

“Most artists were born in Cuba, came [to the U.S.] as young adults, and were educated and trained as artists in the United States. Others went through the Mariel boat lift, and a few were trained in Cuba.

The exhibition was inspired by a larger program that the Cuban Heritage Collection organized in 2020, entitled El efecto Mariel: before, during and after, to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the boat lift.

“The idea was not to focus solely on the artists of Mariel, but rather Mariel would provide the opportunity, the entry point, from which to broaden our scope and examine the artistic production of Cuban artists living and working in the United States during this pivotal decade,” says Cerejido.

Deupi said she thought the exhibit offered something for everyone.

“It’s a really engaging exhibit with a variety of mediums. The range of stories told on the walls of these museums is truly amazing,” she said.

“Radical Conventions: Cuban American Art from the 1980s” is presented in collaboration with the Cuban Heritage Collection at the University of Miami Libraries. The exhibition is made possible through the generous support of the Knight Foundation, National Endowment for the Arts, Jorge M. Pérez Family Foundation, Funding Arts Network, American Alliance of Museums, Florida Department of State Division of Arts & Culture, Miami- Dade County, City of Coral Gables, Cowles Charitable Trust and Arnold and August Newman Foundation.


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