Art scene ~ Household Saints: African Spirituality in Cuban Art & Culture, URI Feinstein Campus Gallery, Providence

University of Rhode Island
Feinstein Providence Campus
Gallery


The gallery is actually the halls of the Feinstein Campus, which is great for exposing the students to art, which they might not go out of their way to see. When I went there tonight, I learned that, starting next week, URI student ID will be required to get into the building. That will make visiting the gallery kind of tricky if you're not a student or faculty member. That's disappointing, since I just discovered this gallery and was looking forward to seeing upcoming exhibits.

The exhibit explores the impact of African culture and spirituality on Cuban culture and its representation in art. Much of it is based in Santeria, a major religion and cultural influence.

Santeria was created when Africans were brought to Cuba as slaves and forced to practice Catholicism. The Catholic saints came to have dual meanings among the Santeria, representing both the traditional Catholic saint and standing in for the traditional African gods, who had physical forms and also represented natural forces.


Here are a few of the works that really caught my attention:
A Household Altar to Oya, the Gatekeeper of the Cemeteries, governor of the dead, overseer of winds, embodiment of thunder, lightning and the Nigerian River.

Here is another representation of Oya, by Selena Gonce


This madonna-like acrylic is called "Yemaya."


Yemaya is the spirit of motherhood and is associated with the moon and ocean.


Jover created this series of Virgin and Child


Another series by Montebravo shows the "Reina" (Queen) in various incarnations.



I thought this one was fascinating. It's called "La Mano Poderosa" and means "The Powerful Hand." It's made of scrap metal, I think, except for the icons at each fingertip, which are plaster. The background looks like it's made of flattened soda cans, and I wonder if the brands might be significant in Cuban culture.


Finally, one of my favorite pieces. The card said it's a triptych of Babalu Aye, but it looks more like a female to me. Perhaps another Reina.

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