By Meghan Meehan
Something exciting is heading to the Rider art gallery this week, arriving all the way from Cuba.
A new exhibit, titled “El Grabado Cuba Hoy,” or “Printmaking in Cuba Today,” will open on Feb. 5, with a reception from 5 – 7 p.m., and continue until March 1. It will display works by Cuban artists Yacel Díaz, Alex Dueñas, Yamilys Jorge, Marcel Martinez, Ariamna Mendoza, Kelvin Nieves, Osmeivy Pacheco, Adislen Pino and Gustavo Del Valle Ramirez. The exhibit is organized by Marilyn Sampera Rosado, curator for the Center of Visual Arts in Havana, Cuba.
Both she and one of the artists, Kelvin Nieves, have come to Rider from Cuba for the opening of the exhibition and the gallery talk, which will take place on Feb. 12. The talk will start at 7 p.m. and will be moderated by gallery director Harry Naar.
“I find it exciting that we are having foreign artists here, artists from Cuba,” he said. “It would be great for the Rider community to meet these people and get more insight.”
It is Naar’s opinion, as expressed in his introduction in the exhibition catalogue, that this exhibition presents “an exceptional opportunity on an artistic and cross-cultural level to expose our community to this work and to demonstrate to our community the creative spirit, efforts and accomplishments of the Cuban artists.”
“This exhibition also comes on the heels of the recent positive political developments between the U.S. and Cuba. Perhaps this exhibition can lead to an even more extensive exhibition in the future,” he said.
The exhibit will feature various works with “an array of different styles, from being realistic and representational to being abstract and inventive and experimental,” according to Naar.
The exhibit has been in the making for quite a while. It all started in 2013, when Naar and his wife, Barbara, went on a trip to Cuba in order to attend a jazz festival. While there, they visited the Center of Visual Arts and met Rosado, who showed them around and introduced them to several Cuban artists.
“The artists were very welcoming and very enthusiastic to meet me. They were polite and wanted to share their ideas and talk about their work,” said Naar. “Even with the language barrier, they were willing to talk.”
Since his trip, he and his wife corresponded with Rosado about the possibility of having a show at the Rider gallery. Last summer, she came from Cuba to visit the campus.
“I had talked to her about Rider in Cuba. She came here and she thought the space was really wonderful. That opened up more of a dialogue between us in terms of putting together a show,” said Naar.
Since then, Naar worked with several members of the Rider community to get the exhibition in the works, including Sara Young-Singh, director of the Center for International Education (CIE), who he said was “instrumental in helping to organize the different student groups on campus,” and Angela Walker, assistant dean of the College of Continuing Studies, who had also been communicating with Rosado in Cuba. Also involved in arranging this exhibition were the Rider Student Government Association, the Latin American Student Association, the Rider International Student Association, and the CIE.
“With their help, and with Sara’s abilities to work with student organizations for their support and help. We succeeded in bringing this important exhibition to our university and the surrounding community,” said Naar. “I think this event goes way beyond just exhibiting artwork. Hopefully this exhibition will open eyes, and help people to recognize Cuba differently.”
Printed in the 2/4/15 edition.