Thursday, November 7, 2013 – ISA – Instituto Superior de Arte
Today we visited ISA (Instituto Superior de Arte) and got a private tour from Aliosky Garcia- the head of the printmaking department. ISA is an amazing architectural experience. Designed by one Cuban and two Italian architects it was built on the grounds of a former country club that Fidel golfed at and decided would make a good place for an art school. The school was designed to reflect a woman’s body, curving passageways, round, domed studios like beehives or giant kilns. And in the center, a fountain shaped like a vagina. There was no water in the fountain, but one could imagine it!
Like so much else here, the project was abandoned before it was finished. The Cuban architect knew this was a possibility so he pushed the masons to do only the necessary work for the foundation and structure, leaving out the finishing touches and details. Nonetheless, it’s an impressive place. Huge studios filled with the work of very accomplished students. We began in the print studio and wandered into the ceramics studio, the painting studio and the sculpture studio where faculty were working. We talked to people in each place, and at every turn people shared their work with us. There is such a desire to show and share and we were the lucky recipients.
We met three printmakers at ISA, Aliosky Garcia, the head of the printmaking department, Andres Dumeningo, ISA master printer and Osmeivy Ortega, printmaking faculty. They were all delightful. We saw stacks and stacks of litho stones once used for cigar labels and now available to the students to use if the materials for making prints are available and the press is working. The predominant printmaking media are woodcut and linocut and collagraph because of the availability of these less specialized materials.
Aliosky Garcia shared his work with us – figurative linocuts that illustrate the precariousness of the Cuban man. We also looked at recent collagraphs by ISA master printer Andres Dumeningo whose work depicts the Santaria saints. Osmeivy invited us to visit his studio, which we eagerly agreed to do on another day.
At the end of our tour we walked over to the music area, the former grand mansion of the estate, where students were practicing their instruments in the large, open courtyard, while others were busy on their laptops. We learned that a few years ago a student required a wireless connection for a final visual art piece, and that he left that connection open after he graduated. It was the only place that we saw where there was wi fi.
It was a real privilege to visit ISA, and we were so taken by the exciting work being produced here and the enthusiasm of the faculty artists that we met.