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When within the face of scarcity Cuban ingenuity becomes art

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Cuban Ingenuity is the name of an exhibition about objects of Cuban every day life that can remain open within the Cade Museum until December 31, 2019.

Sue Draddy, director of selling for the museum, said that through videos, photographs and Cuban objects compiled for the Cade throughout Cuba, Cuban Ingenuity highlights the ingenious vision behind dozens of innovations and inventions that got here out of necessity.

The exhibition, the primary of its kind in that museum, includes manufactured products from the mid-Twentieth century, from American cars to washing machines, all repaired, modified, reused and redesigned for nearly three generations.

Once the concept arose, Cade’s team collaborated with artists and curators born in Havana, Gabriela Azcuy and Jorge Lavoy, with the support of Anne Gilroy (curator of exhibitions on the Thomas Center Galleries in Gainesville, Florida).

García Azcuy says that for some years Phoebe Cade (the president of the board and CEO of the museum) and Randy Batista (director of the Bulla Cubana Festival) had the concept of ​​making an exhibition about Cuban inventions.

Once the museum opened its doors in April 2018, they retook the theme. The second edition of the Bulla Cubana Festival would happen in March 2019 and so they wanted this to be the central activity of the event.

“All of the objects were brought from Cuba. Most of them still in operation. We were fascinated about objects that had a history behind them, that were a part of the every day reality of the family to which they belonged,” Azcuy told OnCuba.

To elucidate the existence of those “Cuban artifacts,” the organizers argue “the absence of a free marketplace for over almost 60 years has forced Cubans to make do without most things,” as they published in a special program dedicated to the exhibition.

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Along with explaining the impact of the U.S. blockade on Cuba since 1962, the exhibition incorporates on a regular basis objects from the Nineteen Seventies and highlights those of the Special Period, when “inventiveness and ingenuity were essential for survival,” said Draddy.

“Innovation and ingenuity are seen in all facets of life, from food to architecture, from tools to technology. The resources and materials are recycled; the objects are reused. Nothing is wasted,” she continued.

Even though it doesn’t delve into political, historical and social contexts (unattainable to say all the pieces in a single exhibition), the show reflects the “passionate stories of Cubans and their ability to adapt,” based on the presentation.

With a small Cuban community, Gainesville, where the exhibition is positioned, is five hours north of Miami in what is known as North Florida, a reality “completely different from South Florida,” García Azcuy highlighted.

“The non-Cuban public’s reception has been extraordinary. People discover through the objects and videos who Cubans are, the inventiveness of a people whose response to scarcity is a unprecedented resourcefulness,” said Azcuy.

Nevertheless, “for Cubans who visit it, it’s a bittersweet feeling. Many cry. Since it is to see your history, to recollect your roots. But at the identical time understand that it continues to be the every day reality of the Island,” she concluded.

The exhibition features a documentary that shows the beaches, the countryside and the architecture of the cities, and tells through several stories the context of a number of the objects exhibited and the way they’re utilized in real life.


On the website of the museum, a non-profit organization, it’s explained that its mission is to “transform communities by inspiring and equipping future inventors, entrepreneurs and visionaries.”

The “winged automobile” and a reused sewing machine are the favourite pieces of Draddy, who recommends the work of Cuban artist Esterio Segura, Hybrid of a Chrysler, previously exhibited on the Kennedy Center in Washington.

“The objects that come together for functionality, nonetheless, have achieved a creative elegance worthy of this exhibition and appreciation. Cuban Ingenuity explores reused objects that range from the ingenious to the scandalous, demonstrating functional solutions to creative achievements,” said Draddy.

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