Explore some of the ways in which W&M has connected with Cuban media culture during the past quarter-century.
Student, faculty and library specialists co-curate an exhibit devoted to the compelling work of graphic designer Alejandro Rodríguez “Alucho.” Alucho traveled to W&M to participate in the inauguration of the show as well as the W&M Global Film Festival, an event for which he designed the promotional poster.
Three of the students who participated in the New Media Workshop and traveled to Cuba—Nathaniel Clemens (’16, former student representative to the Board), Kyle McQuillan (’16, former Mosaic Fellow), and Morgan Sehdev (’16)—merged their talents to translate an essay written by filmmaker Carlos Rodríguez. In doing so, they have helped introduce this community media creator to a wide audience of English speakers.
In May 2017 several W&M Libraries Board members traveled to Cuba. “Our visit allowed us to discuss the role of libraries in a global context,” commented Dean Carrie Cooper, adding, “The work to preserve cultural materials such as art, film, books and print media is important, but equally powerful are the actions W&M can take to enable Cuban artists to thrive and continue creating.” The delegation toured the handmade book workshop Ediciones Vigía where they selected art books for Special Collections, visited the Finca Vigía (Hemingway Museum) and exchange ideas with the director and conservation specialists, and stopped at the studio of Samuel Riera whose “Art Brut” space fosters creativity and promotes social justice. They also met with curator Agapito Martínez and graphic designer Alejandro Rodríguez Fornés (Alucho) to secure poster art for the growing collection of Cuban film posters in the Special Collections Research Center.
As part of an effort to expand and diversify the “pipeline” for academic libraries, W&M Libraries launched the Mosaic Internship and Fellowship opportunities in. Through this initiative, Kyle McQuillan (‘17) and Isabel Rodríguez (‘19), allowing them to extend their engagement with Cuban culture begun when they were students in the New Media Workshop. “We were very fortunate to be able to visit Cuba and begin working on projects related to Cuban film,” noted McQuillan. Rodríguez agreed, adding, “I am so appreciative that W&M Libraries allowed me the opportunity to work on a project that I am so passionate about.” Both consider their Mosaic experience to be a “great introduction to the world of library science.”
As Hurricane Irma touched down in Cuba in October 2017, we were preparing a trip to the island to continue advancing plans with our partners—presenting our work at an international conference in Havana and signing an institutional agreement with the Televisión Serrana community media collective. The trip was postponed and our desire to continue preserving and promoting Cuba’s vibrant culture was reaffirmed. During this poignant moment, when the threat of loss seemed so imminent, we were gratified by our efforts to preserve handmade books from the Papiro workshop in Holguín and Ediciones Vigía in Mantanzas, and limited edition posters from several renowned graphic designers. While our partners were spared damage to their materials caused by strong winds and pervasive flooding, they did suffer from the power outages and scarcity of supplies. W&M Libraries staff, Board members and friends demonstrated solidarity by gathering much needed items to share with them.
Our relationship with Cuba has inspired many to partner with us to sustain the momentum. We added the “Cuba Fund” to our portfolio of options for actual and prospective donors. The fund has begun to grow, thanks to the generosity of many—including current students and alumni, members of the Cuba Media Project Team and W&M Libraries employees, and Board members and other friends. With this support, W&M can continue hosting Cuban artists on our campus to enrich the learning experiences of students and local residents, preserve and promote Cuban media culture, and explore the potential of digital humanities and academic library partnership to make real differences in the world.
In spring 2016, Professor Ann Marie Stock was named the inaugural W&M Libraries Faculty Scholar. A longtime collaborator with Librarians, Stock was invited to work closely with Library colleagues to develop a digital repository to make accessible the Cuban film materials she has been compiling and creating for some 30 years. The digital humanities project is well underway, sustained by a committed team of Librarians from Digital Services, Reeder Media Center and Special Collections Research Center. In her current position as Vice Provost for Academic & Faculty Affairs, Dr. Stock continues to advise on Cuba projects and support various W&M Libraries initiatives. “Thanks to the amazing opportunity of serve as the inaugural W&M Libraries Faculty Scholar, I have a far greater appreciation for the magnificence of our Libraries at W&M and a much deeper understanding of the potential of academic libraries in general.” Dr. Stock’s partnership with W&M Libraries has positioned the institution as a leader in creating and disseminating content related to Cuban culture.
As part of the “Cuba-Curate-Connect” Workshop, co-taught by Ann Marie Stock, Troy Davis and Jennie Davy, 16 W&M students traveled to Cuba’s eastern region of Oriente during spring break 2016. Their mission: to augment their on-campus learning about Cuba’s culture by being immersed in it. And immersed they were. Highlights of this trip included joining David Culver to visit his great aunt in Santiago de Cuba, discussing book making with artists at the Papiro workshop in Holguín, meeting with the poet Delfín Prats and bringing back a book of his poetry for W&M Libraries, and exchanging ideas with filmmakers and film students at the Televisión Serrana. A student-made video captures the transformative learning experience. As Troy Davis summed up, “Our engagement with Cuba allows students to work on media projects and enhance their media literacy; it also fosters lifelong learning and a global perspective.” W&M Libraries partnered with the Reves Center for International Studies, the Charles Center for Honors and Interdisciplinary Studies, and the program in Hispanic Studies on this initiative. Funds from the Philpott-Pérez fund provided travel grants for students.
Troy Davis and Ann Marie Stock accepted an invitation to co-author an article on their ongoing librarian-faculty collaboration related to Cuba.
2000 - 2014
A precursor to the exhibits in Swem Library, this faculty-student curated show brought together the work of four local artists. Connie DeSaulniers, Kathy Hornsby, Patricia Rapoport and Karen Schwartz traveled to Cuba as part of the “Contemporary Cuba: So Near & Yet So Foreign?” study program, and were inspired to depict the island’s people and landscape in paintings and photographs. W&M students collaborated to curate the exhibit which was held in the Reves Center for International Studies.