In October 2017, I co-curated a visual archive/altar dedicated to Lydia in collaboration with the HistoryMiami Museum. It was a collaboration between the Museum, the Cuban Heritage Collection, and the American Folklore Society. The altar format chosen as the means to work with and display pieces from Lydia’s archive was inspired by the idea that the altar can act as a gateway, or connector between that which is gone or hidden and that which is left behind or created. The altar is a stage for and an interface between worlds, which “invites the beholder to experience an approach to archives based in feeling, intimacy, and revelation […] aimed at presenting alternative histories and her-stories apprehended in vernacular, idiosyncratic, interactive encounters with remains” (Otero and Turner 2016).
In May 2019, I acquired the UM Libraries four millionth “volume,” a landmark achievement that was celebrated at the opening of the new Jay Kislak Gallery on the mezzanine floor of Richter Library. The selected 4-millionth volume is a purchase that I made as Curator of Latin American Collections, a map by the renowned pioneer in information visualization called Carte figurative et approximative représentant pour l’année 1858 les émigrants du globe, les pays dóu ils partent et ceux oú ils arrivent (Paris: Charles Joseph Minard, 1862). Minard, born in 1781, was a French civil engineer lauded for his significant contributions in the field of information graphics and created a series of maps aesthetically pleasing and rich in data that were presented in new visual forms. Using lines of different colors and sizes, the map I purchased shows global forced migration in 1858. The map highlights an interesting demographic period after the abolition of slavery in Britain (1838) and France (1848), which created a dearth of workers in European colonies. The map visually depicts the passage of workers from Africa to work on the sugar plantations owned by the French, the influx of indentured laborers from French settlements in Tamil Nadu in India, and it indicates a substantial number of African and Indian migrants also make their way to the West Indies. The map also illustrates the large wave of immigration from Britain to America, Canada and Australia and Chinese immigration to Cuba and California among many other notable global movements at that time. A facsimile of the map is on display in the Richter Library lobby.
In 2018, I co-curated an exhibition called Caribbean Fragments which coincided with the launch of the University of Miami’s 2016 special report on Cuba and the Caribbean, for which I also authored two pieces on Chinese Cubans http://cuba.miami.edu/.
Etching “One Hundred Years of Solitude”
I curated a major exhibition dedicated to the artwork of Pedro Ospina-Villalba and his interpretation through etchings of Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s masterpiece, Cien años de soledad. The exhibition encompassed the first and second floor of the UM Richter Library – both walls and cases, and contained over one hundred framed original works on paper by Villalba, flat cases with the tools of craft, his papers and journals detailing his inspiration, as well as showcasing his exquisite artist book. The exhibition was accompanied by a presentation in the Kislak Center by Professor Omar Vargas and the supporters of the exhibition, and both were titled Etching “One Hundred Years of Solitude”. The exhibition has been mentioned in the Miami Herald.
I co-curated an extensive exhibition of Lukumí beadwork at Florida International University in 2013 and organized and presented at the opening panel to the exhibition, titled “Adorning the Divine with Eleke: A Discussion on Lukumí Sacred Material Culture.”
In October 2019, I led a discussion and tour for the exhibition Where the Oceans Meet, an exhibition of modern and contemporary art at the Museum of Art and Design (MOAD) at Miami Dade College (MDC). The exhibition featured art and materials that resonated with the pioneering work of two Caribbean writers, Lydia Cabrera and Édouard Glissant. The international group of thirty-eight artists and collectives in the exhibition considered notions of shifting and porous borders—geographic, national, cultural, social, racial, ethnic, and linguistic—and how crossing borders has shaped our world. The exhibition included material from the Cuban Heritage Collection’s Lydia Cabrera papers and was curated by Hans Ulrich Obrist, Asad Raza, Gabriela Rangel, and Rina Carvajal and was on view from May 26 to December 29, 2019.
Lydia Cabrera and Édouard Glissant: Trembling Thinking
“On Becoming the Archive: Lydia Cabrera and the Transnational Production of Afro-Cuban Knowledge.” Essay that accompanied the exhibition “Lydia Cabrera and Édouard Glissant: Trembling Thinking.” On view at the Americas Society from October 9, 2018 through January 12, 2019. Edited by Hans Ulrich Obrist, and Gabriela Rangel. Also in conjunction with a panel hosted by the Americas Society.
Ediciones Vigía: Illuminating Women
I co-curated the CHC artists’ book exhibition “Illuminating Women: Representations and Narratives from Ediciones Vigía.” The Cuban Heritage Collection has a world-renowned selection of Vigía’s and the largest of its kind in a research institution. The accompanying exhibition brochure can be downloaded here: