New Life for Old Stuff: My Cuban Art Adventure

I was fortunate to have had the opportunity to travel to Cuba a few weeks ago with a tour sponsored by Wisconsin Public Radio,  hosted by Dr. Jonathan Overby and organized by Earthbound Expeditions.

It was a trip back in time in many ways.   I was impressed by what we did not see: big box stores, fast food chains, designer clothing outlets, etc.. And I was impressed by the motifs, neon signs, architectural styles, and of course the classic cars of the 1950’s that are very much alive and part of  the ambiance of Havana.  As a child of the 50’s, and as an enthusiastic collector of vintage images and “stuff” from this era, I felt that I had entered into a time warp that is very much alive in my psyche.
There is so much to say about this trip, but I would like to share with you today about the art that I saw.  Cuban artists are using stuff of the past decades to create art.  I saw mosaics in many places, created from old dishes, bathroom fixtures, sewing machines, whatever could be found!  It is so stimulating to see how an old bathtub could be placed inside a mosaic and used as a canvas.  Wherever we went, there were artists selling work that they had painted on canvases that seemed to be made of old muslin sheets, and collages made on newspaper backing.  The art is very well done, and very exciting because it is made from whatever can be found..much of which is very old stuff.
I have been using vintage images in my collages for years.  They speak to me from the places in my psyche that need a voice. They speak from a time that has passed but still lives within me.  My experience in Cuba reminded me of my own process of reclaiming the icons, the colors, the faces, the stuff of my childhood and reworking it through creative processes into something meaningful.  Giving life and a voice to forgotten bits and pieces of the past.
I also could not help but notice that the old buildings are in sad need of repair and updating, and that as beautiful as Havana had been in the 50’s, there is now work to be done:  the goal there is to modernize without destroying the great buildings of the past.  It has been a wake up call for me, too….time to bring some of those old images living in my head up to date.  Guess I had better get to work on some more SoulCollage(R) cards!
Do you have any images or “stuff” from your childhood living in your unconscious?  Creative play in community is a wonderful way to discover what is wanting to emerge from your inner being at this time in your life.  Consider joining us as we explore our inner worlds.

This is an amazing place near Havana, Cuba, created by artist Jose Fuster, to find out more and see a video click here Fusterlandiafuster land