Tuesday, Oct. 28, 2014

UNO Anthropology Department Hosts Talk by Cuban Artist, Former Refugee

The University of New Orleans this week hosts a talk by a Cuban refugee held at Guantanamo during the mid-1990s.

Aurora De Amenda, an artist studying at the Parsons School of Design will host a lunchtime talk on Thursday, said Steve Striffler, Doris Zemurray Stone Chair in Latin American Studies. The talk is hosted by the Department of Anthropology, where Striffler is chair and a professor of anthropology and geography.

Join Us!

Aurora De Armendi shares her life and her art from 12:30 to 1:45 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 30 at the University of New Orleans, Milneburg Hall, Room 264. The talk is free and open to the public.

Aurora De Armendi is an interdisciplinary artist and teacher, who has recently worked primarily in the medium of printmaking and artist's books. Her work begins as either intuitive expression or considered research and is projected through the indices of anthropology and poetry. Much of her art relates to her personal history and knowledge of Cuba, said Striffler.

De Armendi was a Cuban refugee at Guantanamo in 1994-1995, following a period of Cuban diaspora that sent myriad Cuban residents fleeing their homeland on rafts. The Cuban Rafter Crisis resulted in a series of refugee camps at Guantanamo Bay, where the U.S. holds a major Naval base. Archived personal histories of refugees tell of time spent in the sea, followed by disheartening, even dehumanizing, time spent in the refugee camps.

De Armendi subsequently studied at The Cooper Union School of Art in New York, where she received a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in 2005, and The University of Iowa in Iowa City, where she received a Master of Fine Arts degree in 2009.

In 2008, De Armendi began interviewing Cuban immigrants mostly living in the United States from different waves of migration in Cuban history: the Early Exiles of the 1960s, the Mariel Boatlift immigrants of the 1980s and the Balseros of 1994, she said in an online public history document. Her aim has been "to shed light on the complexity of the Cuban Diaspora."

In 2012, she began working on EntreVistas, a collaborative work conducted by the Guantánamo Public Memory Project designed to engage refugees in sharing their memories and recalling Guantanamo's history. The projects are designed to educate the public and empower national dialogues surrounding the US naval base at Guantánamo Bay as a site of detention for some but as a place of work and dwelling for others. 

De Armendi was selected to participate in the 2012-2013 Artist in the Marketplace (AIM) program at The Bronx Museum of Art and she was awarded a full year residency from The Center for Book Arts, New York in 2013.
In recent years, De Armendi's work has been included on group exhibitions at the Bronx Biennial at Wave Hill Garden in Bronx, NY; the International Print Center in New York City and The Center for Book Arts, also in New York. Her work has exhibited in cities throughout the United States, Iceland, Hungary, Argentina, and Cuba, among others.

De Armendi currently teaches at The Cooper Union Outreach Program and Parsons The New School for Design. She works as a fine art printer at Two Palms and is part of the executive board of The Cuban Cultural Center of New York.


Learn More

Aurora De Armendi 
Public History Commons: The Cuban Refugee Experience of Guantanamo Bay
Guantanamo Public Memory Project