Black and White Works

CHILDREN WITHOUT A COUNTRY

Historia de Cuba

1994

El remo cubano.jpg

The Painted OAR 

 4' x   4 '

oil on canvas"
 

1994

In 1994, the U.S.naval base in Guantanamo, Cuba, was used as detention center for thousands of Cubans fleeing the Castro regime on precariously built  rafts and boats. This painting evokes the plight of
the many families who literally ended up behind barbed wires during and after that year's exodus. Even though I am a U.S. citizen, the story of my native land is an integral part of my soul and of my vision
as an artist. The symbolism of the two oars (above) and the single oar (below) is tied to the story of exodus and shipwreck so intimately associated with Cuba since Fidel Castro rose to power in 1959. Perhaps these themes go back further to the days of the Taino natives, African slaveships, and pirates of the Caribbean . . .

When I was selected along with some twenty other visual artists to create paintings to be exhibitted at the night of the Gala Event, I wrote several pages of text relating the image of THE OAR and the BOATLIFT relating these to the myths of LETONA, the goddess of Night, mother of Apollo (the Sun) and Diana (the Moon) and of her loves with ZEUS, in defiance of this god's wife Hera. 

 

The shape of the single oar -- like a guitar or violin -- expresses what I see as the character of the Cuban people, so  "musical" and  care-free. The barbed wire carries associations of pain and exclusion. Ironically, Cuba needs a Nelson Mandela to denounce the apartheid that its people have been suffering for over 40 years.

When the canvas of my Cuban Oar was auctioned for $ 7,000 in 1995, I donated all the proceeds from the sale to help Cuban detainees at the U.S. Naval Base in Guantanamo, Cuba, while they awaited passage to
freedom in North America. The auction was part of
"Children Without a Country," a charity gala held in Miami Beach for the Guantanamo detainees. The charity effort was led by the great Cuban-American singer

Willy Chirino and a number of other  prominent Cuban-American professionals, including  Carlos Piña.

Niño de Marinero Chirino.jpg

"Mi madre me vistió de Marinero"

 4' x   4 '

oil on canvas"
 

1994

Guantanamo Father and Son Chirino.jpg

Guantanamo : Children Without a Country  

 4' x   4 '

oil on canvas"
 

1994

Childern Without a Country program cover

PPPR

Program for the GALA

W

WILLY CHIRINO AND FRIENDS

 

Guantanamo : Children Without a Country

 

 10" x  10" ""
 

1994

Cattedrale del Mare : TRANI

watercolor  11 "   x  17 "
2009