Isolina Limonta is a Cuban artist working at El Taller Experimental de la Gráfica (the Experimental Graphic Art Studio) in Havana as a printmaker.
Born in Guantanamo in 1956, and now residing in Havana, Isolina is one of Cuba’s most prolific and successful artists of her generation, according to Michelle Wojcik, whose art gallery Galería Cubana, represents Isolina in the U.S.
Isolina’s work has been applauded for its stunningly rich colors and textures, in addition to the underlying deeper social observations. Her printmaking reflects a strong influence by the traditional religion of Afro-Cuba, Santeria. The bodies of the figures in her work are filled with the intimate elements of their lives — plants, coins, feathers, architecture, lace, or buttons (to name a few) are imprinted on their bodies.
In 2016, Michelle Obama visited El Taller Experimental de la Gráfica during the historic presidential visit to Cuba. Isolina greeted Michelle on her visit to the Taller.
For more than 40 years the cooperative-studio has housed the country’s top printmakers, like Isolina, who make amazing art with limited resources. ( “Taller Experimental de la Gráfica” tel. 07/864-7622, firstname.lastname@example.org, Mon.– Fri. 9am–4 pm).
The workshop is located at the far end of Callejón de Chorro, next to the Cathedral Palaza. You can watch artists make prints that are available for sale. The workshop also offers courses on traditional lithography (using stone), woodcuts, and etchings (using metal).
According to one source, the 1960s poet, Pablo Neruda, convinced Che Guevara to open the facility and use discarded antique presses. Che was the Minister of Industry and agreed because he wanted to keep the traditional art form alive. Today the studio remains a vital outlet for Cuban artists despite the lack of availability of high-quality paper and ink. The artists re-use the well-worn stones over and over, sanding the etchings down in-between pressings.