Release date: August 27, 2007

"AfroCuba: Works on Paper, 1968-2003" exhibition will open at Kennesaw State

Contact: Cheryl Anderson Brown, Assistant Director of Public Relations
770-499-3417 or

"#1 de la serie Momentos la fijeza" by Juan Roberto Diago

"Mokongo" by Belkis Ayon

"Gone with the Macho" from the series "Las Perlas de tu Boca" by Elio Rodriguez

KENNESAW, Ga.“AfroCuba: Works on Paper, 1968–2003” is a groundbreaking exhibition of 66 prints and drawings by 26 artists from Havana and Santiago de Cuba, opening Aug. 29 and running through Oct. 24 in the Sturgis Library Gallery at Kennesaw State University. The artists in this exhibition represent a cross section of Cuban society, and their works exhibit a diverse range of subject matter, styles and techniques, including lithographs, collographs, woodcuts, screen prints, and ink and crayon drawings. Organized thematically and following a loose chronological order, this exhibition is the first to focus on AfroCuban artists and themes through a historical-thematic lens—and the first time this work has been grouped together in a major exhibition outside of Cuba.

The exhibition features contributions by artist-members of Grupo Antillano, which evolved in the late 1970s and whose work underscores Cuba’s African heritage; artists who were sent to Africa, particularly Angola, either as combatants in revolutionary struggles or as cultural attachés; artists whose imagery is derived from AfroCuban religious expressions, including Santería; as well as artists whose works comment on Cuban politics and race and social relations today.

Included in “AfroCuba: Works on Paper, 1968–2003" are prints by Manuel Mendive, who first traveled to Africa in the early 1980s and whose artistic concerns address AfroCuban religious iconography. This section of the exhibition also contains a series of large prints (collographs) produced in the 1990s by Belkis Ayón, who consistently deconstructed popular attitudes about the all-male, Havana-based Abakuá Society and inserted in her art her own AfroCuban female identity.

Of the more contemporary works on paper in the exhibition, artists cast a more critical eye on their country’s social, political, and economic conditions. This new generation’s aesthetic offerings range from takeoffs of 1950s-style movie posters (which celebrate fictional films starring the AfroCuban artist Elio Rodríguez and his wife), to the powerful, dark drawings of Juan Roberto Diago
(inscribed with such acerbic commentaries as “My skin also is good” and “All Blacks do not drink coffee”), to Ibrahim Miranda, in whose Black Tears series, woodblock prints of distinctly rendered tears are printed over historic maps of Cuba and the transatlantic passage. As a group, and as a statement, this thirty-five-year chronicle of AfroCuban art testifies to the vitality and richness of work produced (and still being produced) on this nearby island.

The exhibition is curated by art historian Judith Bettelheim, Ph.D., author of two books and numerous articles about Caribbean art and culture. Dr. Bettelheim has worked in Cuba since 1985, and for this exhibition she interviewed numerous artists and collected work that attests to these artists’ involvement in AfroCuban culture. The exhibition is toured by Curatorial Assistance, Inc., Pasadena, California.

Admission to Sturgis Library Gallery is free. Gallery hours are 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., Monday through Thursday; 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday; and 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday. For more information, call 770-499-3223 or visit


Dr. Judith Bettelheim, curator of the exhibition, is in town during the first week of the exhibition. She is generally available for interviews on Tuesday, Sept. 28, and on other days by appointment.

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A member of the 35-unit University System of Georgia, Kennesaw State University is a comprehensive‚ residential institution with a growing student population approaching 20‚000 from 132 countries. The third largest state university in Georgia‚ Kennesaw State offers more than 60 graduate and undergraduate degrees‚ including a new Doctorate of Education in Leadership.

The KSU College of the Arts is one of only four Georgia institutions to have achieved full national accreditation for all of its arts programs.


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