Manuel Mendive  (b. 1944) - Se Alimenta mi Espirit, (2007) - Acrylic on canvas, 64 ¾” x 95” - Courtesy of Ramon and Nercys Cernuda

New London, CT - Lyman Allyn Art Museum announces a new exhibition, Ajiaco: Stirrings of the Cuban Soul, opening September 12, 2009 and on view through February 21, 2010.   Lyman Allyn Art Museum’s partner, the Hispanic Alliance of New London, has provided support for this exhibition with its coordinating programs and events. Cuban culture has been characterized as an ajiaco or a rich stew consisting of a vast array of ingredients.   It is this synthesis that is the essence of Cuban art and the subject of Ajiaco: Stirrings of the Cuban Soul.   The exhibition seeks to interpret the diverse social dimensions of Cuban art in a global context through the exploration of its relationship with African, Asian, European, and indigenous influences and belief systems.

This art incorporates the tales of the Orisha of Africa, the calligraphy of Chinese Tao Te Ching, and the rituals of indigenous peoples.   The formats change, the materials vary, but the mix remains constant in both Cuban and Cuban American art.   Ajiaco: Stirrings of the Cuban Soul is not only about Cuban art; it explores diaspora.   In broader terms, this project addresses both the immigrant experience and the expression of cultural identity in a new place.

The curator, Dr. Gail Gelburd, a professor of art history at Eastern Connecticut State University in Willimantic, Connecticut, writes, “Isolated and yet educated, restricted and yet heralded, the Cuban artist embodies the angst of their situation and yet embraces the loftiest of goals.   Their syncretist tradition and heritage allows them to go beyond the monotheistic traditions in order to find the origins of their soul, the geist or inner spirit of their art.”   Gelburd has been conducting research on Cuban art and artists for over fifteen years.   She travels to Cuba regularly and has lectured there for the Havana Biennale, Havana University, and Casa Africa.     Gelburd has received numerous grants and awards, including a Rockefeller Foundation grant to conduct research on Cuban art and she is publishing a book on Contemporary Cuban art.   Her article “Cuba:   The Art of Trading with the Enemy" was published in Art Journal in Spring 2009.

This exhibition consists of more than fifty objects, including paintings, works on paper, photographs, sculpture, installations, and audio works by twenty-two artists.   Ajiaco: Stirrings of the Cuban Soul will feature such major figures in Cuban art as Wifredo Lam, Manuel Mendive, Jose Bedia and Sandra Ramos, among others.

Following its time on view in New London, Ajiaco: Stirrings of the Cuban Soul will travel to the Chelsea Art Museum in New York City and then on to the Hilliard Museum at the University of Louisiana in Lafayette, Louisiana.

Part of the Lyman Allyn Art Museum’s mission is to respond and to appeal to the regional community.   In that spirit, the museum and its partner The Hispanic Alliance of New London have planned an exciting schedule of programs to accompany this exhibition.   The programs are designed to engage people of all ages.  

Lyman Allyn Art Museum is a community-based museum located in New London, Connecticut.   Founded in 1932 by Harriet Upson Allyn in memory of her father, Lyman Allyn, the museum serves the people of Southeastern Connecticut and is free to New London families. The museum is accredited by the American Association of Museums and is a non-profit organization with 501(c) 3 status.   Housed in a handsome Neo-Classical building designed by Charles A. Platt, the permanent collection includes over 10,000 paintings, drawings, prints, sculptures, furniture and decorative arts, with an emphasis on American and European art from the 17th through 20th centuries.  

The museum is located at 625 Williams Street, New London, Connecticut, exit 83 off I-95.   The museum is open Tuesday through Saturday, 10:00 am - 5:00 pm and Sunday 1:00 – 5:00 pm, closed Mondays and major holidays. For more information call 860.443.2545, ext. 112 or visit us on the web at:

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