September 17, 2016 to October 08, 2017
The eight artists featured in this exhibition—Miguel Couret, Alejandro Gonzalez, Aimeé Garcia Marrero, Ibrahim Miranda, Cirenaica Moreira, Elsa Mora, René Peña, and an anonymous creator of a cut–and-paste book from the Cuban Revolution — reinterpret Cuban history through their provocative and politically charged works. All began their careers during the “Special Period,” an era marked by the economic and cultural crisis following the departure of the Soviet Union as Cuba’s primary trade and military partner in the early 1990s. The consequent challenges of living in a land of great potential but little opportunity inspired these artists to conflate the portrayal of their own identities with that of their nation’s history. Humor, pathos, and irony are all present, often simultaneously, in their expressions of an erratic and surreal Cuban reality. Most of these artists were trained at the island’s fine arts academies, which are among the finest in the world. Their technical expertise, command of materials, thorough knowledge of Western art history, and participation in vibrant artist communities have given rise to some of the most provocative and compelling art created in the world today. Most of these works were acquired by JSMA executive director Jill Hartz during her fourth visit to Cuba, during the 2015 Havana Biennial. Cuba Ocho was organized by Amelia Anderson, a second-year MA graduate student in art history, and Jill Hartz.