‘Curate, Connect, Cuba’ Brings the Cultures of Cuba and the USA Closer Together
Development of Positive Cultural Relations between Cuba and the U.S. Through Sharing and Celebrating of Art, Media and Individual ConnectionsSeptember 16th, 2016
During their spring break, 16 students from William and Mary College in Williamburg, Virginia, enrolled in Professor Ann Marie Stock’s New Media workshop for the once in a lifetime experience of a week-long educational excursion to eastern Cuba.
As a piloting effort within the curriculum of William and Mary College, Professor Stock and Troy Davis, Director of Swem’s Media Services, created a course entitled ‘New Media Workshop: Curate, Connect, Cuba’.
Much of the content of the course revolved around a trip to Cuba during the spring break. The 16 students enrolled in the course, alongside Professor Stock, Troy Davis, Exhibits’ Coordinator of Swem Library, Jennie Davy, and David Culver spent an unforgettable week in Cuba, where they developed several projects.
Entitled ‘Curate, Connect, Cuba’, the course emphasized the development of positive cultural relations between Cuba and the U.S. through sharing of art, media, and individual connections. One group of students gathered information to help them curate an exhibit of cartels de cine designed for ghost films which were never produced.
Another group documented the progress of the workshop in general and captured the experience of traveling to the island. A third group documented interviews and developed an institutional profile for Televisión Serrana. Finally, another team undertook a collaborative art project between elementary students in Cuba and Virginia, seeking to build interpersonal and international bridges.
The Curate Team has been instrumental in the exhibition of ‘UnMade In Cuba: Carteles de Cine’: a collection of Cuban film posters designed for films that were never made (so-called ‘ghost posters’). The students are attempting to create an online version of the exhibit, so that a larger population has access to the works.
The Track Team has recorded the process of the exhibition, from the preparation of the posters to the active influx of tours. They were responsible for filming, interviewing and documenting the class and its projects, particularly the trip to Cuba. Some of this footage can even be seen as historic recording, as they became the very first U.S. University to visit Televisión Serrana (TVS), a community media collective which the class joined on location in the Sierra Maestra Mountains of Eastern Cuba.
Although the entire class grew close with the members of the collective, the students of the Profile Team were specifically tasked with creating a multimedia profile of the organization. Inspiration and gratitude seem to be first and foremost on the students’ minds when speaking about their experience in general. “I can’t begin to explain how vital traveling to and experiencing Cuba really was to my group’s project, and my own personal growth as a scholar and American citizen”, notes Jenny Horner, an Anthropology and Hispanic Studies double major, and a member of the class Promote Team.
Back in Williamsburg, Professor Stock shared her decades of experience and insider knowledge on Cuba with W&M and the Williamsburg community at large as part of a tack lecture entitled ‘Remix and Revolution in Cuba. Screening the Island’s Transformation through Cinema’.
The event allowed Professor Stock to remind us that, during the 50 years of broken relations between the US and Cuba, American understanding of the island lagged: “most of us in the United States don’t know much about the country. The politics and practices of both governments have resulted in keeping us apart and both peoples in the dark for the last half-century. We tend to envision Cuba as stuck in time, a place that’s not changing, a place that’s static”.