Dialogue with Cuba
Cuba Week was inaugurated in the fall of 2011. Professor Ruth Behar and a group of U-M undergraduate students, who traveled to Cuba on the semester abroad program sponsored by the Center for Global and Intercultural Study and the Department of Anthropology, decided on their return that they wanted to bring the spirit of Cuba to campus for others to learn about the vibrant world of the cultural arts in Cuba today.
By inviting Cuban cultural artists to the University of Michigan, we seek to create a space for dialogues and interchanges with students, faculty, and the Southeast Michigan community. Our initial guests in 2011 were the Hip Hop duo, Alexey Rodríguez and Magia López, known as Obsesión, who performed on a shared stage with Michigan Hip Hop artists.
Now, in 2012, the program has expanded to become Cuba Double Week, featuring Cuban Poet Laureate Nancy Morejón and Award-Winning Book Designer, Theater Designer, and Visual Artist Rolando Estévez to the University of Michigan to present their work and engage with multiple audiences across campus.
Between December 2 and December 13, please join Professor Ruth Behar and the Center for Global and Intercultural Study as they host a range of literary and artistic events featuring Nancy Morejón and Rolando Estévez, as well as Cuban-inspired performances by University of Michigan students.
Rolando Estévez Jordán (Matanzas, 1953) is a poet and visual artist who works in multiple mediums, including drawing, painting, installation, performance, stage design, and handmade book design. He teaches basic freestyle design and theatre design in Matanzas, where he is also a leading promoter and organizer of artistic events, competitions, exhibitions and other alternative cultural activities.
Estévez cofounded Ediciones Vigía in 1985, a small publishing house specializing in handmade books of works by Cuban and international writers. Since that time, he has served as its principal designer and artist. Estévez has created over 500 handmade artist books, magazines, plaquettes, and catalogs often in small editions. In addition, in the last few years, he has been producing one-of-a-kind books. Vigía advocates a sensual, tactile engagement with books, using repurposed and recycled materials such as paper from the local butcher, yarn, fabric, leaves, dried flowers, tin foil, lace, and scraps of fabric to create a limited number of volumes, with a maximum of two hundred.
Estévez’s Ediciones Vigía books are collected privately and in cultural institutions in Europe and the US, such as the British National Library, the Atlantic Art Museum, the New York Museum of Modern Art (MOMA), the U.S. Library of Congress, as well as numerous universities in the U.S., Canada and other countries in the Americas. The University of Michigan, Special Collections Library, holds a major collection of these unique books.
Nancy Morejón (Havana, 1944 ) is one of the most distinguished poets who emerged after the Cuban Revolution. She was the first Afro-Cuban to graduate from Havana University, and the first black woman poet to publish widely. A prolific writer, she has published more than thirty-five collections of poems, along with seven collections of essays on Cuban and Caribbean culture and humanities, in addition to countless newspaper articles. Her work has been anthologized and translated into more than a dozen languages, including Greek, and Japanese.
Morejón has been the recipient of multiple awards including Cuba’s National Prize for Literature (2001) and she is President of the Cuban Academy of Language and President of Writers for U.N.E.A.C.. Her work addresses contemporary issues of gender, ethnicity, history, and Cuban identity as part of the greater web of the African Diaspora in the Americas. “With lyrical, profound, and complex subtleties, her poetry stands as reflections and refractions of the convergence of Spanish and African cultures in Cuba” explains Behar.