Making Art in Cuba

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Pyle Center
@ 9:00 am - 2:00 pm

Poster for Making Art in Cuba event featuring artwork image of black squares in a white space stating event is in Pyle center on April 28th from 9am-2pm.

Four Artists Talk about Making Art in Cuba: A Conversation with Reynier Leyva Novo, Celia Irina González, Rafael Villares, and Camila Lobón

2023 Burdick-Vary Symposium organized by Professor Guillermina De Ferrari, Senior Fellow, Institute for Research in the Humanities

Cuba is torn apart by economic crisis, political division, and climate change. It is also an aesthetic powerhouse in which art is the privileged site of civic engagement. Artists incorporate archival and sociological research in an effort to illuminate complex underground economies, solidarity networks, environmental violence, the production of history, and to envision new political practices and institutions.

On this one-day Symposium, four young Cuban artists will present their work and discuss their aesthetic strategies and philosophies, the relationship between artists and the state, and about making art after Cuba.

Program: Art, Archive, Activism

Pyle Center, Room 232


  • History: Reynier Leyva Novo
  • Environment: Rafael Villares


  • Society: Celia Irina González
  • Politics: Camila Lobón


  • Roundtable Discussion: Making Art In (and After) Cuba

This event will be conducted in English.


Reynier Leyva Novo [Cuba, 1983] is one of Cuba’s leading conceptual artists. Working across media, Novo combines anthropological and historical research with cutting-edge technology to examine the psychological and sociological effects of complex issues throughout history and in the present. He develops his projects through mining historical data and official documents, transforming their contents into minimalist and conceptually charged sculptures and multimedia installations that are at once visually engaging and intellectually provocative. In recent years, Novo has secured his position as a rising star of the international art world through participation in biennials and exhibitions worldwide, as well numerous exhibitions and acquisitions of his work by major institutions.

Celia Irina González [Cuba, 1985] is part of the artist duo Celia y Yunior. Her installations explore the ways in which institutions shape the life of citizens, ranging from the formal and legal procedures to the unspoken rules and informal practices that people use to make their lives work. Her art practice involves sociological investigation and the visualization of silent data and historical contradictions. A graduate from the Instituto Superior de Arte (ISA) in Havana, Celia y Yunior have exhibited their work in Madrid, New York, Jakarta, Santander, Miami and in the 2015 Venice Biennale. She has an MA in visual Anthropology from FLACSO (Ecuador), and is currently doing a PhD in Social Anthropology at the Universidad Iberoamericana en México. She divides her time between Havana and Mexico City.

Rafael Villares [Cuba, 1989] works across various media, including sculpture, installation, photography, drawing, and painting. Through researching the history of the Natural and Social Sciences, Villares’ practice centers around an exploration of landscape to highlight the ways in which art and science intersect to shape and transform our understandings and perceptions of Nature. Villares is interested in how art creates opportunities for individuals to enter and encounter manipulated realities, challenging people to replicate these experiences in their everyday lives. Villares represented Cuba at the 59th Venice Biennale and has exhibited extensively both in Cuba and internationally, including at the Chazen Museum of Art in Madison, Wisconsin, the Museo Nacional de Arte (MNA) in Bolivia, the Havana Biennial in Cuba, the Vancouver Biennial in Vancouver, and the Sixty-eight Art Institute in Copenhagen. He studied at the Academia Nacional de Bellas Artes San Alejandro and the Instituto Superior de Arte (ISA) in Havana. He is currently pursuing an MFA at Yale University School of Art.

Camila Lobón [Cuba, 1995] focuses on the narration and illustration of a social and political imaginary that subverts Cuban totalitarian narrative through individual memory. Graduated from the Instituto Superior de Arte, La Habana in 2019, she currently works as coordinator of the Hannah Arendt Activism Institute (INSTAR), founded by artist Tania Bruguera. Her work has been exhibited in Havana, Montreal, Buenos Aires, Berlin and Prague. She is a columnist for the independent Cuban magazine Hypermedia, and a member of the Ánima collective. Lobón has been an active member of many of the initiatives that have starred in recent years in the claim for freedom of expression and civic and political rights in Cuba, such as the 27N group and the San Isidro Movement.

Event Co-Sponsored by:

The Institute for Research in the Humanities, the Latin American, Caribbean and Iberian Studies Program (LACIS), The Center for Visual Cultures (CVC), the Art Department, the Department of Art History, and the Department of Spanish & Portuguese.

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Poster for Making Art in Cuba event featuring artwork image of a tree branch stating event is in Pyle center on April 28th from 9am-2pm.