The problem with Cuba’s vexing scarcity of basic supplies and materials – things that are common in most other countries – is the social impact for Cubans struggling with the challenges of daily life. Yet there has been an abiding sense that Cuba’s pervasive condition of scarcity may one day result in great abundance in the form of artistic expression. The truth is that scarcity has often played a dominant role in releasing dormant energies for humans attempting self-expression or creative solutions to problems. Cuba’s opening up to the world is finally connecting Cuban artists with collectors and collaborators, and the result offers amazing real-time exposure to the interplay of culture, commerce and art like no other time in history.
Michelle Wojcik, a self-described social entrepreneur, wasn’t afraid to do the hard spade work when she planted her first Cuban art gallery, Galería Cubana, in the far outpost of Provincetown, MA in 2009. The gallery’s location in a seasonal Cape Cod village known for its free-thinking, artists-colony sensibility was a counter-intuitive place to showcase Cuban artists and art. Michelle’s tenacity and foresight paid off, and now she has opened a second location in Boston and has even expanded into the tour business as a way to expose American art enthusiasts to Cuban artists in the island nation.
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Galería Cubana offers New England’s most comprehensive collection of contemporary Cuban art with rarely seen works by both internationally renowned and emerging artists currently living in Cuba. The gallery showcases paintings, prints & drawings that encapsulate the cultural depth, aesthetic diversity and political edge unique to Cuban art.
Michelle has been studying Cuban culture, politics and economics for over fifteen years. Prior to establishing her gallery, she worked with the World Policy Institute’s Cuba Project (2001-2004) in New York City. During her time with the WPI, she researched the political and economic effects of the U.S. embargo, and facilitated dialogue among leaders with varying perspectives on U.S.-Cuba policy.
Here is an interview with Michelle from 2013:
With art as one of the few private enterprises permitted in Cuba since 1994, Wojcik wanted to support artists whose work would otherwise not be seen in the United States and present such work to Americans who have limited direct exposure to Cuba’s rich culture.
She now travels to Cuba regularly in search of new works and undiscovered talent. She regularly hosts Cuban artists for exhibitions at both the Boston and Provincetown galleries since the U.S. government began granting tourist visas to Cuban artists in April 2010.
Michelle has lectured on the history of Cuban art and the contemporary Cuban art market at several universities including Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Boston College, Boston University, along with the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.
Another focus has been private art collections. Michelle says Cuban art has been revered in the art market for its unique range of influences, subjects, styles and methods, and many art connoisseurs have added Cuban art to their collections. These numbers are increasing rapidly as Cuba stands on the cusp of change.