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ASU Art Museum showcases extensive collection of contemporary Cuban art

September 19, 2003

TEMPE, Ariz. – One of the most significant collections of contemporary Cuban art outside of Cuba will be on exhibit from Oct. 11, 2003 – March 6, 2004 at the Arizona State University Art Museum. Cuban Art from the Permanent Collection features the museum’s extensive holdings and reflects the historical, geographical and political views of young Cuban artists. 

“The works in this exhibition represent the themes of island survival and historical irony,” says museum director and chief curator Marilyn Zeitlin, who frequently travels to Cuba to research Cuban art, meet artists and collect work. “Cuban artists circumvent censorship by using irony to reference other historical periods of art.” 

Many of the artworks symbolize life on the island of Cuba. Kcho’s Para olvidar (In Order to Forget) is a found-object kayak set afloat on a sea of beer bottles. “The attempt to escape can be both literal or through the oblivion of alcohol,” Zeitlin says. 

Tonel’s cartoon-like drawing in El vomito es la cultura (Vomit is Culture) says Zeitlin, “makes reference to the condition of the island as a place where the cycles of consumption and regeneration are more self-contained than they are in a place where borders are broad.”

José Angel Toirac’s three-channel video installation La Edad de Oro (The Golden Age) is about the international political conflict over five-year-old Cuban refugee Elian Gonzalez. Toirac created the work with Meira Marrero and American artist Patricia Clark while an artist-in-residence at the ASU Institute for Studies in the Arts. The piece was selected for The American Effect exhibition at the Whitney Museum of American Art this year. 

Other artists in Cuban Art from the Permanent Collection include Pedro Alvarez, Abel Barroso, Jacqueline Brito, Yamilys Brito, René Francisco, Los Carpinteros, Sandra Ramos, Fernando Rodríguez, Esterio Segura and Osvaldo Yero. 

Zeitlin will give a series of lectures on Cuban art and culture at 7 p.m., Sept. 23 and 30, and Oct. 14 in the museum. An opening reception will be held from 7 – 9 p.m., Nov. 1.

The ASU Art Museum, named “the single most impressive venue for contemporary art in Arizona” by Art in America, is part of the Herberger College of Fine Arts at Arizona State University. The museum is located on the southeast corner of Mill Avenue and 10th Street in Tempe and entry is free. Hours are 10 a.m. – 9 p.m. on Tuesdays (during the academic year), and 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday. For more information, call (480) 965-2787 or visit the museum online at

Media Contact:
Denise Tanguay