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Welcome to the streets of Havana

A group of Northeastern students who have participated in Dialogue of Civilizations programs in Cuba have brought the streets of Havana to the streets of Boston.

A new mural of student photos featuring people, places, and art around Cuba’s capital city was recently installed on external facing windows at West Village H, transporting the culture of Havana to Huntington Avenue.

The Northeastern community celebrated the installation, titled “Cuba, Through the Lens,” on Monday at an opening reception that featured Cuban food and music.

“I’m honored,” said Brooke Lyman, BSH’15, whose photo of a Cuban girl standing in a courtyard was one of 13 selected for the exhibit. “I didn’t know a lot about photography before the Dialogue, so to now have one of my photos on display like this is a very cool feeling.”

Cuba Photography Exhibit

Harly Hutler, AMD’16, gets a closer look at one of the photos featured in the windows of West Village H. Hutler, a participant of the dialogue in 2013, is one of the students whose work is on display. Photo by Maria Amasanti

The exhibition represents the first collaboration between the College of Arts, Media, and Design’s photography program and Northeastern’s Public Art Initiative, which provides students, faculty, and artists from around the world “canvases” throughout campus—in highly visible and sometimes unexpected places—to display their works for the entire campus community to experience. The initiative kicked off in the spring with a mural by artist Daniel Anguilu on the retaining wall of the MBTA Pedestrian Bridge next to the Curry Student Center.

Lyman, who said photography is one of her hobbies, chose to go on this Dialogue for the opportunity to learn about a country that’s so close to the U.S. but still so mysterious to many.

“The professors gave us a lot of free range as far as what we should take photos of,” Lyman explained. “The buildings down there are so colorful, beautiful, and faded.”

The exhibit featured photos taken by students who participated in the Dialogue of Civilizations program in Cuba in either of the past two summers. The four-week program includes two courses: one is a hands-on photography class and the other focuses on the cultural history of Cuba, including visual arts, music, and architecture.

The exhibit was designed by Andrea Raynor, an associate academic specialist in the Department of Art + Design who has led the Cuba Dialogue in years past. The exhibit’s goal, she said, was to showcase photos portraying street scenes from Havana.

“We wanted to make it feel like you were on the streets of Havana while being on the streets of Boston,” Raynor explained. “I was also trying to show the diversity of Cuba.”

Additional photos from the Dialogue are on display inside West Village H, including a photo by Christina Reynolds of a bird landing next to a Cuban girl sitting on a house porch. Reynolds, SSH’15, said the Dialogue solidified her dream of becoming a photojournalist.

“I ended up taking pictures of everything,” she said. “Taking pictures of the streets, people, fruits, and trees was completely different from taking photos here. Even the sunlight was different, and it made for really great photography.”

The students’ photos displayed on the external windows facing West Village H will be up until November. The photos featured inside WVH will be up until March.

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