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Cuban artist discusses theme of mass migration

| Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Visual artist Sandra Ramos discussed the effects mass immigration have on culture and society Monday night at the Hesburgh Center. The Cuban native spoke to faculty and students about how her own experience is reflected through her career and the various different forms it has taken on over time.

Chris Collins

Ramos shared her background with the power of education and the geographical and political isolation of the island of Cuba. She talked about how her art reflects the national pride and the expectation and hopes that often accompany the immigrant experience.

“Although much of my presentation is about my experience, the subject of immigration concerns everyone,” Ramos said.

Ramos said her career began following her graduation at San Alejandro, a prestigious fine arts school in Havana during the “special period,” the era following the fall of the Soviet Union and their decreased influence in Cuba. Her early work highlighted the physical isolation of the island and was mostly print.

“It is about the difficult decision to leave your family and home and possibly never see them again,” she said.

During the late 90s Ramos opened a new installation that utilized the insides of used suitcases. The suitcase installment was meant to reflect the idea that all the things you want to take with you, can ultimately immobilize you, she said.

“You can’t take all the memories with you,” she said.

Ramos said in order to build a society, you must have a strong understanding of history.

“History repeats itself,” she said. “Even when I’m talking about specific elements of Cuba in my art, these themes are universal. Even when you’re isolated, there are so many things in common with humans around the world. You can always find a relation.”  

Ramos said her work of the past decade focuses on the new era of Cuban international relations and how the future changes independent of the present. The enlightening of previously hidden voices is important to the current generation of artists, Ramos said. This change in tone has resulted in a shift in medium towards animation and video installations.

 “This new medium of animation has allowed me all imagery, such as the imaginary travel or the psychological travel. We are all in a transitory identity due to globalization. On the individual level, we are redefining ourselves and expanding our ideas,” Ramos said.

Following Monday’s presentation, Ramos will attend the largest collection of Cuban art in the United States at The Walker Art Center in Minneapolis.

 

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