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Cuban art exhibit celebrates a culture that outlived Castro

Cuban artwork loaned from Maria Lopez is installed in Gallery 360 on Oct. 23, 2018. Photo by Matthew Modoono/Northeastern University

Under Fidel Castro’s communist rule, Cuban artists were among the few people who enjoyed the freedom to travel outside the country and keep their wages.  

It was in this spirit that a new exhibit named “Cuba: Uncensored” has opened in Northeastern’s Gallery 360. The title is a nod to Castro’s censorship that continues to pervade the country yet spared certain artists and their work.

The new exhibit comprises works by contemporary Cuban artists from the extensive collection of former Boston Phoenix owner Stephen Mindich and his wife Maria Lopez, the first Latina judge in Massachusetts.

Some of the pieces in the exhibit were created by artists such as Sandra Ramos and Julio Girona, whom Mindich and Lopez met and befriended in Cuba on one of their many trips to the country. Mindich died in May of pancreatic cancer.

“Hardship can really stimulate the creative process,” said Maria Lopez, who was reflecting on the art she loaned to Northeastern. “There is such resilience in these pieces.” Photo by Matthew Modoono/Northeastern University

“My husband was an avid art collector,” Lopez said. “It was his passion. He would rather collect art than eat.”

Lopez, who is Cuban-American, and Mindich would travel to Cuba annually to bask in the vibrancy of the culture, she said.

“Hardship can really stimulate the creative process,” said Lopez, who was reflecting on the art in her collection and on loan to the university. “There is such resilience in these pieces.”

“Cuba Uncensored” provides another example of the relationship between Northeastern and Cuba. In 2017, President Joseph E. Aoun signed an agreement with the University of Havana to expand Northeastern’s research in coastal sustainability, tropical disease, and the social sciences. Northeastern students live, work, and study in Cuba thanks to co-op and other experiential learning programs.

The exhibit is on display through Jan. 14, 2019 in Gallery 360.

“These works are about the importance of having a voice,” said Bruce Ployer, Northeastern’s campus curator. “This is a message that resonates deeply with anyone who has encountered adversity of any kind.”


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