As an American, when thinking about the arts such as film, theater, music, ballet, poetry and fine art, my mind trails, immediately thinking of those wealthy enough and sophisticated enough to enjoy these amenities. However, in Cuba, the arts are not considered a luxury for the rich, a hobby for the sophisticated or a gender specific discipline. When studying in Cuba, I was exposed to this idea when we were told about FÁBRICA DE ARTE CUBANO. A multidisciplinary gallery containing a variety of expositions including, architecture, visual arts, theatre, dance, graphic design and photography. As we discussed the possibility of going to such neat and cultured place I saw the dollar signs (CUC) flashing in my mind. However, costing about as much as a happy meal I was pleasantly surprised. We entered to find a variety of people. Different races, ages, economic backgrounds and education levels together, discussing paintings and exhibits. It was simply beautiful. Among this trip to "La Fábrica", we visited other art museums beaming with beauty and an essence of Cuban culture. Not only Cuban art but art from all over the world, ranging from a variety of different centuries all hanging in unison.
There is no "type" of person that is interested in the arts in Cuba. The arts are not a feminine thing, a man's thing, a race thing, an intellectuals thing or a generational thing. They are a HUMAN thing. Imagine the most manly construction worker in Cuba. It would not be a surprise if he played roles in theatrical productions at night. Their love an appreciation for all arts was amazing to me. I had never seen anything bring so many people from all different walks of life together.
Cuban art has been influenced by many different countries and has went through many different eras. The most recent and influential occurred during and directly following the Cuban Revolution in 1959, many artists found themselves limited by a political agenda. Many artists were hired by the government to create propaganda portraying nationalism and commonly containing the image of the revolutionary leaders and because art supplies were a very limited commodity, the government had an easier time controlling this mean of expression. Since, these times artists in Cuba are finding themselves more and more freedom to express themselves freely, however, still limited by the availability of resources. Cuban art takes on many shapes forms and holds many significant meanings about culture, life and their history.
Location of La Fabrica de Arte