SVA recently welcomed to its campus four artists and faculty members from ISA University of the Arts, Cuba’s preeminent arts college. The group was invited as part of an effort to take advantage of the improving relationship between the U.S. and the Caribbean nation and foster future collaborations between the two schools, namely in the form of study abroad programs in the country, open to both SVA students and the public.
The ISA group was comprised of painter Roger Toledo Bueno, photographer Ossain Raggi González, ceramics artist Carlos Alberto Rodríguez Pérez and printmaker Aliosky García Sosa. With Javier Vega, executive director of SVA Admissions and Student Affairs, as their guide, the visiting artists spent the better part of a week touring the College’s facilities and meeting with various faculty, chairs and administrators. The group also gave a presentation on their work and ISA’s pedagogical approach, which emphasizes traditional skills and rigorous studio work and maintains a near one-to-one student-to-faculty ratio, allowing for close mentorships.
SVA has been steadily building relationships with Cuban artists and educators for the past 12 years. In 2003, at the suggestion of SVA Board of Directors member Walter Rivera, Executive Vice President Anthony Rhodes led a team of College administrators on a trip to the country to visit some of its arts institutions. Shortly after, Gunars Prande, director of SVA’s printmaking facilities, began a long-distance collaboration with the artists of Havana’s Taller Experimental de Gráfica, which resulted in Cita Con Los Angeles, a series of 9/11-themed lithographs exhibited in Cuba in 2004 and at SVA in 2009. In spring 2014, the College introduced a printmaking program at the Taller, which ran again this year and is currently open for enrollment for spring 2016.
SVA is currently developing additional study abroad programs with ISA, in fine arts and photography, which may be offered as early as late spring in the coming year. And two of the College’s graduate programs, MA Curatorial Practice and MPS Digital Photography, are looking into opportunities in Cuba for their students. For more information on SVA’s study-abroad offerings, visit artsabroad.sva.edu.
Top photo: ISA faculty pose with a group from SVA on the terrace of the SVA Chelsea Gallery. From left: Francis DiTommaso, director of SVA Galleries; Javier de Pablos Velez (BFA 2013 Film and Video), who volunteered as a translator; Michelle Mercurio, assistant to SVA’s executive vice president; Dora Riomayor, director of SVA’s international programs and BFA Fine Arts advisor; ISA printmaking instructor Aliosky García Sosa; ISA photography instructor Ossain Raggi González; Gunars Prande, director of SVA’s printmaking facilities; ISA painting instructor Roger Toledo Bueno; ISA ceramics instructor Carlos Alberto Rodríguez Pérez; Javier Vega, executive director of SVA Admissions and Student Affairs. Photo by Chris Jessick.
Bottom: ISA students work in the university’s sculpture facilities. Photo courtesy of ISA University of the Arts.