May 5 – June 16
Ana Flores fled the island of Cuba with her family as a young girl. She returned for the first time 40 years later, in 2002. Cuba Journal: A Sculptural Installation is the result of that pilgrimage. As an artist, Flores has always been acutely aware of place and environment, but her journey back to Cuba redefined her sense of identity and vision. The resulting sculptural installation she created is multi-layered with political, cultural and personal imagery.
In Cuba Journal, Flores has chosen to convey complex themes such as her own family’s exile, Cuba’s history and Castro’s dictatorship in a deceivingly simple folk art style that includes sculptural toys, puppets and furniture. All of the work is made out of found and recycled materials as a tribute to the creativity and resourcefulness that she witnessed on the island. The participatory installation reads like a theatrical recreation of the island she left as a child, with text, music and video elements woven in.
Cuba Journal premiered at the University of Rhode Island Fine Arts Gallery in 2004, since then the show has traveled to the Turchin Center of the Arts in Boone, North Carolina and to Gallery 210 in St. Louis, Missouri. With every new site, the artist varies the installation adding or eliminating components in response to the space and community. One thing that does not change is the huge Castro puppet that rules the space just as he rules on the island. When Castro dies, Flores plans to burn the enormous puppet like a giant effigy on a beach. Filming this last chapter will be the final adjustment she makes to Cuba Journal.
The artist was born in Havana Cuba, in 1962. She is a graduate of the Rhode Island School of Design, a professor of Art and the Environment at Bryant University and Artist in Residence at the Rhode Island Headquarters of U.S. Fish and Wildlife. She is an exhibiting artist with a long history of exhibitions, artist residencies and public art and park projects nationally, in Canada and in New Zealand. She lives in Charlestown, Rhode Island and Livingstone’s Cove, Nova Scotia.