Cuba photos on display in Baldwin Gallery

Bounty by Meg Griffiths

Bounty by Meg Griffiths

Photographs representing two perspectives of the nation of Cuba are the focus of a show that opened Oct. 26 at the Baldwin Photographic Gallery.

“Cuba, Two Visions” features photographs seen through the lenses of two distinguished photographers: Meg Griffiths and José Betancourt.

Griffiths’ work, “Casa de fruta y pan,” explores domestic life at the edge of capitalism. She began traveling in Cuba in 2011 and stayed with families that host tourists in their private homes as a means of income.

“After the collapse of the Communist bloc in 1989, families opened their doors to travelers in order to supplement their state-regulated source of earnings, giving birth to the casa particular or, literally, “private house,” Griffiths explains.

Her photographs represent a modest cross-section of Cuban casas particulares throughout the country, attending to a way of life where the previously private home becomes a business and, moreover, marks a transition from a purely Communist country to a hybrid one at a key point in Cuban history — the waning of an outdated political and economic model as well as Castro’s rule over Cuba.

Griffiths lives in Columbia, South Carolina, where she is an adjunct professor of photography in the School of Visual Art and Design at the University of South Carolina. Her work has been shown in multiple venues around the country, including Columbia Museum of Art, Center for Fine Art Photography, and the Museum of Living Artists in San Diego.


El Caiman, 2015 by José Betancourt

El Caiman, 2015 by José Betancourt

Betancourt’s exhibit, “Cuba: Reconstructing Memories,” is inspired by his own experience leaving Cuba in June 1971 with his parents.

“With my suitcase and a toy plane, I traveled with my parents from Havana, Cuba, to Miami, Florida,” he said. “The flight was part of the Freedom Flights that carried over 250,000 Cubans to a new life in the United States between 1965 and 1973. Everything was left behind except what we could carry. As a 5-year-old, I had no idea what this meant.”

For his exhibition, Betancourt assembled a group of photographs that are initiated by his memory while incorporating the nostalgia and homesickness he experienced while missing his Cuban culture.

Betancourt is an associate professor of art at the University of Alabama in Huntsville. His studies in jazz improvisation along with his interest in the documentary genre of modern photography inspire his spontaneous style of taking photographs. Photographers such as Henri Cartier-Bresson, Lee Friedlander, Garry Winogrand, Andre Kertesz and Robert Frank are listed among his influences.

Both photographers will be on campus Nov. 16 to lecture on the exhibit. The talk will start promptly at 6 p.m. in the Bragg Media and Entertainment building,  room 103. A reception will follow in the gallery.

The Baldwin Photographic Gallery is located in the Bragg Media and Entertainment building on the 2nd floor. It is open Monday–Friday from 8 a.m.–4:30 p.m.

The exhibit closes on Dec. 30.

For more information, please click here for Betancourt and here for Griffiths.

La Casona quarter horse by Meg Griffiths

La Casona quarter horse by Meg Griffiths

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