A Papier-Mache Tribute to Elderly Cubans
By Paula Henriquez
HAVANA TIMES — I recently went back to see the artist Georgina de la Cruz. She welcomed me in her small room, full of things as it normally is in the days leading up to her new exhibition. This time, the work she’s doing has very little little to do with the paintings I showed you in my last interview, instead she’s working on an original series of sculptures, which as well as being amusing, invite us to reflect upon the lives of Cuba’s elderly.
While it’s true that there are a large number of unknown artists in Cuba, especially in Havana, I’d like to explain that the main reason for this post is to follow up on this artist and her work which previously won over the curiosity and concern of some of Havana Times’ readers. It’s also an invitation, in one form or another, for other professionals on the art scene to break away from their fears and the “secrecy” which they’ve kept for years and to finally expose their truth, what they lack and therefore enter the limelight.
Going back to my subject, let me tell you that her most recent series of papier mache (a paste made out of glue, paper and water which takes on the artist’s desired form when it dries and hardens) sculptures aims to highlight a number of experiences of the elderly here, including their daily routine and deeply-ingrained habits. Some of the photos taken show men and women reading the newspaper, sitting in a park or simply walking along the street.
Georgina, what inspired you to make a series of papier mache sculptures which represent senior citizens?
I walk around a lot every day and while I’m wandering, I see a lot of people. Almost all of them are over 60, including myself. I find it funny how we each have a routine which keeps us busy and in touch with society. I like to join these activities and learn more about this morning gathering that defines us. That’s when I got the idea that every one of us has a lot to discuss in terms of artistic creation. That’s why I decided to study them from the inside and the outside. I would sit down and watch them run their errands, the queue to buy the paper every morning, meeting up to do exercise, etc…
Is that what this series of sculptures represents?
Yes, exactly. That is to say, it presents us, people over 60, the oldest in our families, the most tested. It’s a way to pay tribute to ourselves as well, I mean why not?
Pay a tribute to yourselves?
Yes, for living in a country where there are a lot of shortages and, even still, we continue to survive and find a daily space for ourselves. A tribute because, and now I’m talking not about me personally, seniors people deserve admiration and respect and a lot of the time they don’t get it. I wanted to make a point about the fact that we elderly still exist, we still make up a part of this world, this country, this city, and we still have a lot to offer, in all respects.
On the other hand, this series also hopes to become a portrait of early morning in Cuba, that of senior citizens, the Cuba which is sometimes ignored by others, of young people, in their early morning rush to get to work.
Tell us a little more about the technique you’ve used…
It’s very simple and children, young people and adults can use it. In short, anybody can do it. First of all, you have to rip up paper, normally it’s cardboard, into small pieces, then you add this to a container with equal parts of water and glue: To give the figure shape, in this case, I used copper wire which also serves as a frame, as a skeleton, and then I cover this skeleton with the mix that has been created from combining the ingredients I mentioned beforehand.
What will this exhibition be called and how many figures are you intending on making?
Well, I think this series will be called “The Indispensables” and up until now, I’ve thought about making 17 sculptures, I’m already working on the last few now. I think it will be something new and original, at least for me.
I still don’t have a date for the opening but I think it will be very soon and if things continue to go well, it will be held at the Wilfredo Lam gallery in Marianao, which is found inside Marianao’s amphitheater. I hope it is and I hope you like it…
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