Cuban artist Roberto Diago met with students and faculty on Thursday, March 1, 2018, where they discussed subjects ranging from Cuba’s economy and Diago’s family history in the arts to the influence of the horrors of Boko Haram on his work.
Diago, whose visit precedes the conclusion of his exhibition “La historia recordada” at the Halsey Institute of Contemporary Art, welcomed questions from students and faculty alike during an intimate lunch. He cited the influence of Spanish artists on his art and responded in-depth to questions about the themes of racism in his work.
“Young people today can tap into new perspectives and ways of thinking, thanks to the internet and technology, but this was not the way of your parents and grandparents,” said Diago through an English translator, noting that the younger generation’s point of view gives him enormous hope that good things will happen, though progress may seem slow. “The future, that’s my work.”
Having artists, such as Diago, visit the Halsey and engage with students and faculty is invaluable, says Lizz Biswell, the Halsey’s manager of outreach and engagement. The exhibit of Diago’s art is part of the College’s semester-long program Cuba en el Horizonte, which examines this island nation’s history, politics, economy, culture and art.
“Bringing our exhibiting artists to the campus is a vital part of our mission to create meaningful interactions between adventurous artists and diverse communities within a context that emphasizes the historical, social, and cultural importance of the art of our time,” says Biswell. “In addition to producing events for the larger Charleston community, it’s important to us that our primary audience, the College of Charleston community, has opportunities to learn from our artists. After all, artists and their works are vital primary sources for discourse related to all aspects of society.”
Diago’s discussion on Thursday also touched on “The Initials of the Earth,” a new installation he will create for the exhibition during a public event at 2 p.m. this Saturday, March 3, 2018, at the Halsey.
“When I finished school, the art materials we had used were very expensive, and I couldn’t afford them, so I began working with available materials I found in the streets,” Diago explained. “The Initials of the Earth” will incorporate metal buckets, water, cardboard, and canvas, and was partially inspired by a poem by Jorge Luis Borges.
On Thursday evening Diago also hosted a guided gallery talk in front of his work. The new installation, along with the exhibit, will close on Sunday, March 4, 2018. The art museum will hold special extended hours in honor of CofC’s Family Weekend on Sunday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. for patrons to get a final view of Diago’s art.