Copper Fest: A cultural exchange in Miami

Travel to the United States by Cuban artists has ceased to be an almost unbelievable tale. In the past three years or more, the exchange between the two countries has grown at least in one sense: Cubans are now traveling to U.S. territory.

This year, for the first time, 26 artists with different specialties are flying together to Miami to share space in the same event.

We’re talking about the DanzAbierta company, the group Síntesis, artists Noel Morera, Nicomedes Díaz, Carlos Alberto Rodríguez, Alan Manual González, Alejandro Calzada and Yoruba practitioner Juana Morales, who, from Sept. 4 to 11, will appear at Copper Fest, a production of the U.S. Copperbridge Foundation (CBF).

It will be a week of Cuban culture — music, dance, plastic arts and religion — split between the galleries Swampspace, House of Hart, and the Light Box at Goldman Warehouse, in the Wynwood Art District and Miami Design District.

Perhaps unintentionally, Copper Fest morphs the usual dynamics of cultural exchanges, almost always personalized, with scant contact with the local population, events that are basically emission with little feedback.

The festival will include concerts, dance presentations, lectures, exhibitions, master classes and workshops that can be shared with friends, students and institutions. Eight days that will show that the island’s artists study and admire the artistic references in U.S. culture. Eight days to discover that language might be the only barrier that separates the artists.

Copper Fest concretizes the desire of CBF’s Cuban-American president, George Darder, to bring his roots to the United States and establish a dialogue between the U.S. and Cuban communities. Mr. Darder visited Havana for the first time 20 years ago and, despite his family’s incomprehension, his re-encounter with cousins, culture and identity prompted him “to show the world the true treasures of [his] island.”

For eight days, the audience may share opinions with the Cuban artists and U.S. artists Donna Hughes and Nathaniel Styles. Donna, a jeweler and model, will lead a workshop on the creation of religious garments where she will explain the particularities of the design, colors and shapes of her necklaces.

Nathaniel will speak about the tradition, rituals and practices of the Yoruba religion. Both will join the Cubans Juana Morales, a santera; Alejandro Calzada, creator of the photo series Contemporisha; and Carlos Alfonso and Ele Valdés of the group Síntesis, in a panel on the Yoruba roots and their influence on artistic manifestations.

“The Mother of All Cubans” is the title of an exhibition created by Cubans Noel Morera, Nicomedes Díaz, Carlos Alberto Rodríguez and Alan Manuel González. The artists bring works, some of which have been shown in Cuba, that give pictorial representation of the Virgin of Charity and provide the history and meaning of the patron saint of Cuba.

To Alan Manuel González, his paintings are the fruit of the inescapable circumstance of being created in Cuba.

“They are metaphorical works that talk about us and accuse the ills of our present,” he says. “They are a cathartic wail, a denunciation or criticism of deplorable situations. With a non-elitist visual language that’s understood by ordinary people such as myself, confronted by the reasons for our existence and immersed in them, I paint them wrapped in beauty, so that through them, in some mysterious and spiritual manner, we can attain redemption.

“Or maybe I paint them as a reminder of what we’re living through today and as a plea that we won’t experience it again in the future.”

In his paintings, Noel Morera sees his homeland submerged in the sea. “I have lost friends in the Straits of Florida,” he says, “and thousands of Cubans have survived that space of misfortune and despair. In each story, I see the image of the Virgin of Cobre and I see everyone as a Juan. These paintings are a tribute to those persons and an expression of thanks to faith.”

An outstanding artist is painter and restorer Nicomedes Díaz, who, since his training in the shop of master Cosme Proenza, has built replicas of the Virgin of Charity. During his stay in Miami, the Church of Barajagua, in the Cuban province of Holguín, will display an image of the Holy Mother, created by Nicomedes. Barajagua is the town where the image of the Virgin was taken after being found floating on the Bay of Nipe in 1612 by three men named Juan.

Copper Fest is part of the series Cultural Evolution that CBF first promoted in 2013. Next month, this festival will somehow eliminate the distances between the U.S. and Cuba and show that the present can be the new reality.

For further information about the event: here

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