Looking Beyond the Embargo: Art and Visual Culture in Cuba Since 1959
Since Fidel Castro’s 1959 Revolution the visual arts have enjoyed a special status in Cuba. State support for arts institutions is robust and artists are less likely to be censored than writers, enabling them to make bolder statements about social and political issues on the island. This seminar will explore major themes in Cuban art, cinema, and visual culture since 1959, including the persistent promise of utopia, migration, state surveillance, and urban deterioration. Close attention will be paid to visual representations of Cuba’s relationship with the USSR and the tragic results of its demise, the Special Period in a Time of Peace; the iconography of Afro-Cuban religious practice; the enduring figures of José Martí and el Che in public art and propaganda; and the impact of changing diplomatic relations between the US and Cuba on art production and distribution. A few optional film screenings will take place in the afternoons.
Beth A. Zinsli ’02 is the Director and Curator of the Wriston Art Galleries and Assistant Professor of Art History at Lawrence University, which is also her alma mater. She received her Ph.D. in art history from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2014. Her graduate work focused on the medium of photography as a system of visual and aesthetic representation within the context of the contemporary Spanish Caribbean and its U.S. Diasporas, which enabled her to visit Havana twice for research.