Selections chosen for Intersections: Cultures, Identities, Narratives include examples of texts that embody the ideal marriage of literary and artistic value.
Cultural groups and regions ranging from Cuba to Europe (such as: Russia, Sweden, and Spain) and the United States, as well as other Latin American countries are represented in the exhibit selections. Even when geographies are disparate and languages are foreign to the reader or artist, the ability to transcend barriers and to create cultural connections through these works is palpable. Below are just two examples of how these works demonstrate these cultural intersections. The viewer is invited to discover many more cultural juxtapositions thoroughout the exhibtion.
One example in the exhibition can be found in the first book that Estévez produced for his new imprint, El Fortín, Dos Mujeres, Una Isla (Two Women, One Island). This book illustrates a cultural and geographic intersection between two poets. It brings together poems by Nancy Morejón and Ruth Behar, thereby connecting an Afro-Cuban poet who lives on the island with a Cuban-Jewish American poet who lives outside the island (in the United States). Estévez designed the book to explore the idea that the two women poets are reflections of each other and together have given birth to a shared island by combining their poems into one work.
The use of many languages can also suggest the cultural intersections of a collective experience and understanding. Upon lifting the second layer of the cover of Fin y Principio (The Beginning and The End), four translations of the poem "Beginning and End" in Polish, Spanish, English, and French are written to illustrate the universality of the text's message.
In many of these artists' books, the blending of cultures and experiences is usually evident from the covers of the items and is often imbued throughout by creative intertextual illustrations. Therefore, the images chosen for the display typically show the front covers of the items; however, at times, examples of pages and facets of an artists' book are also displayed thereby allowing the viewer to better understand the connection between the Cuban artists' and their culturally diverse subjects.
It is evident in the interpretive illustrations and vibrant imagery in these works that the identity of the artist and the author (when they are different) interesect to create a new representation of a literary work. These literary intersections are more broadly described under the Narratives tab in this exhibit. More specifically, the identity of Rolando Estévez as an artist is woven into each of his pieces as his identity shifts from that of a collaborative artist to a sole creator. His voice and impetus, however, remains inconstant: to be in search of the purity of and freedom in expression and literary reflection.
As Estévez, once a principal designer for Ediciones Vigía, grew as an artist, the books published by Vigía also became more elaborate. No longer were the pieces invitations to events as they first started, but they were becoming influential works of art that incorporated text from all arenas of life: cultural and intellectual interests, spiritual homages, and regional representations. In 2013, affter many years collaborating with Ediciones Vigía, Estévez decided to depart from his role with the collective to develop his own artistic works under his new imprint, El Fortín (the fortress), represented by the lighthouse symbol.
Estévez continues to grow as an artist, but he still pays homage to the literary greats he respects, which is evident in his tribute to Hemingway. As well, he also identifies as an artist with a new and growing audience in the United States. While describing his multi-painting piece, Plurality of Love which was created in the United States, Estévez calls the U.S. a “multi-country” -- a place where people from all over the world can be free. Freedom is crucial, and he wants a world where everyone has their own freedom.
Estévez considers himself an island of freedom. He is a part of the world but free to express himself. He not only uses design and images to express his artistry, but now he uses his own words for the content of his works. No longer required to create works which have to be reproduced in editions of 200 as is the norm for Vigía, Estévez now creates more elaborate, limited-edition and one-of-a-kind works. With the guiding light of El Fortín, he can now create what he wants, and he can have the freedom he needs as an artist. His identity has shifted with his work. And the identity of his works have shifted in what they mean to a growing international audience. He came with the lantern, but he has now built his lighthouse.
Ediciones Vigía and El Fortín derive their inspiration from literary traditions spanning three continents. Most works emanate from the most obvious source, Cuba’s rich literary heritage. However, Latin America and Spain are also well represented. Less expected, perhaps, are translations of European and American writers. Although Ediciones Vigía publishes a variety of formats, from letters to short stories to poetry; Intersections: Cultures, Identities, Narratives shines a spotlight on select letters and poetry. In addition, a sampling would not be complete without examples of the literary journals published by Ediciones Vigía.
Cuban writers are well represented in this collection through the works of author’s such as José Martí, Dulce María Loynaz, Nancy Morejón and Ruth Behar. In Cuba, José Martí is regarded as a nationalist hero, as well as poet. Two works included here illustrate this dual character: Versos sencillos, IX—la niña de Guatemala and Martí con todos: tres discursos. Poemas sin nombre, Miel imprevista and La novia de Lázaro exemplify the works of renowned poet Dulce María Loynaz. Contemporary writers Nancy Morejón and Ruth Behar, are represented by Ana Mendieta and Everything I kept/ Todo lo que guarde respectively.
Amongst the other significant works included in this collection are those by celebrated Latin American and Spanish writers: Jorge Luis Borges (Cristo en la Cruz y otros poemas); Juana Inés de la Cruz (Entre Engaños Velos); Gabriel García Márquez’s (La Santa) and Federico García Lorca (Poeta en Nueva York). From the European tradition, a strong Russian influence is evident in the publication of authors such as Boris Pasternak (La vida es minuciosa) and Sergei Aleksandrovich Esenin (Motivos persas). From North American, writers such as Edna St. Vincent Millay (Endecha sin música/ Dirge without music) and Ernest Hemingway, who inspired "Angel and the Sea” remind us of a the persistent connection between Cuba and American culture. To round out the collection, Intersections offers a sample of journals published by Ediciones Vigía: Barquitos del San Juan: la revista de los niños, a literary journal for children and La Revista del Vigía, published twice annually.