The Times Herald (Norristown, Pa.) reported on Myths and Realities: Inspirations from the Republic of Cuba, an exhibit on display in Arcadia University’s Commons Gallery until Sunday, Jan. 6, 2013. The show features landscapes by Abbey Ryan, botanical studies of tropical flora by Scott Rawlins, and collages by Bonnie Levinthal and Yvonne Love incorporating indigenous materials, as reported by Andrew Francis Krick. The works were inspired by the artists’ trip to Havana, Cuba, as part of Arcadia University’s Global Faculty Development Program in June 2012.
Walking into the exhibit, one will find a host of artifacts from Cuba, as well as varied artistic interpretations of the island from North Americans who so rarely get to visit the this beautiful and mysterious nation. On one side of the exhibit are displayed the works of Abbey Ryan, an art teacher at Arcadia, who since 2007 has done, on average, one painting a day in an ongoing project.
Incorporating her visit to Cuba into her larger ongoing project she came back with a series of five landscapes, breathtaking in their use of perspective, detail and representation of the beauty of an uncorrupted and unspoiled land.
Adjacent to Ryan’s display are the works of Scott Rawlins, her colleague from Arcadia, whose specialty is making biological and medical illustrations that are so lifelike that they almost look alive themselves. Rawlins was much more focused on the natural history of the island than the culture that was explored by the other three artists.
In a nation that has been untouched by the forces of environmental exploitation, Rawlins was able to capture the beauty and essence of Cuba’s flora and fauna. In the center of the exhibit are three walls filled with artifacts and material from Cuba itself, including English language newspapers, political cartoons, ceramic religious statues, street art, photography from the island, a book published in Cuba by a poet who has lived both in the United States and Cuba, and art from Cuban artists.
This display makes the exhibit much more than an art show, shedding light on modern-day Cuban society that would be hard to find even in a major museum.
Photography by Kara Wright ’14