A two-day symposium at the Pérez Art Museum Miami, Dialogues in Cuban Art (28-29 April), brought a handful of artists from Cuba to the US, further connecting an ever more accessible country that has provided a rich cultural heritage to the city.
The symposium came after a week of exchange that included studio visits and other cultural exploration. Most of the Cuban artists had not frequently travelled stateside, and one curator and one artist had before visited the US.
The talks, all of which were simultaneously translated into Spanish, revolved around subjects such as Mapping the Development of Cuban Art in Miami: Private Consumption, Public Circulation and feature Cuban curators and collectors.
Two panels were dedicated exclusively to the dialogue between Cuban and Cuban-American artists, featuring the likes of multi-disciplinary artist Humberto Díaz, recently part of an exchange programme with the Bronx Museum, Reynier Leyva Novo, who installed the opening show for Galleria Continua's Havana outpost this fall, and Wilfredo Prieto, the winner of the 2008 Cartier award.
The museum’s director Franklin Sirmans said the talks were planned long before he assumed his role at the museum this past fall and that all credit for organising them goes to his curators.
“Here in Miami, the conversation with Cuba has been paramount. It stems from the relationships that our curators have built and that is reflected in our collection," Sirmans said. The museum's principle donor, Jorge M. Pérez, is Argentinian, with parents of Cuban descent.
Great interest has been paid to Cuban artists and the country’s art market recently, as President Barack Obama has begun steps to reopen diplomatic relations with the country, such as reopening the US embassy there last summer.
"It goes hand in hand with the change that has been going on in the last couple of years," Sirmans said of such programmes. "We get a lot of people who are coming through here on their way to other places, coming from [Cuba,] and on their way home."