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Carmen Oquendo-Villar

José Bedia was born in Havana, Cuba, where he pursued his formal artistic education at the Academia de Artes Plásticas San Alejandro and at the Instituto Superior de Arte. He left Cuba in 1991 and spent a brief time in Mexico before establishing himself in Miami in 1993. Bedia's work—drawings on paper; oil paintings on canvas; works in ink, acrylic, charcoal, oil crayons; and installations—derives most of its power from Cuba's African heritage, sometimes bringing to mind Kongo cosmograms (geometric designs which carry religious meanings) and Abakuá (Afro-Cuban all-male secret societies) ideographic writing. Texts in Spanish, Yoruba, or Bantu languages accompany many of his pieces. Despite the deep presence of African art Bedia's work, Cuban critic Gerardo Mosquera has labeled it postmodern Kongo art because it does not pretend to be a reenactment of original African art.

Bedia s adherence to local attitudes does not prevent him ...

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Valerie Belgrave's best-known work is Ti Marie (1989). Belgrave is also a visual artist whose has exhibited her dyed works in Trinidad and Canada.

See also Literature, English-Language, in the Caribbean.

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Paulette Smith

Born in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Wilson Bigaud was introduced to so-called naive painting by Hector Hyppolite, one of Haiti's most famous artists. Deep melancholy and depression plagued Bigaud's exceptional but tragically short career. His famous canvas Paradis terrestre, recognized as one of the purest masterpieces of Haitian art, has single-handedly exported the magic of his vision of a black Adam to a broad international audience.

Bigaud's artistic talent was proclaimed to equal Brueghel's when he produced his Noces de Cana (Miracle of Cana, 1951), the famous 528-square-foot fresco decorating the Episcopal Cathedral of Port-au-Prince. Bigaud's impressive self-portrait (1958) best reveals the precision of his brushwork and the artist's desire for perfect control of his surroundings. In the painting he depicts himself in the apparel of the arrivé a Haitian term meaning the one who made it wearing a distinguished panama hat and dressed ...

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Charles Rosenberg

a modernist painter, was born in Guyana. Bowling shaped his art to insert a black cultural sensibility into forms such as abstract painting, generally viewed as “Western,” insisting that art should not be stereotyped by race or national identity. Working on both sides of the Atlantic, his solo exhibits since 1962 number well over eighty.

Little has been written about Bowling's childhood. His mother owned a variety store in Bartica, Guyana, which he looked after when it was being built. At age fifteen, he was sent to England, where he joined the British Library to research Guyana's history and culture. He enrolled in 1957–1959 at Regent Street Polytechnic, Chelsea School of Art, and in 1959–1962 at the Slade School of Fine Art, University College London, and the Royal College of Art. During this period he was a founder of the Young Commonwealth Artists Group, working with Billy Apple ...

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Born in rural Jamaica, Everald Brown moved to West Kingston in 1947 and became deeply interested in the religion of the Rastafarians. Having established a small unofficial church in 1960, he began making artworks for use in church ritual. These works are noted for their intuitive style and use of imagery from Rastafarian, Ethiopian Orthodox, Judaic, and Christian revivalist religious traditions. Brown claims that these images come to him through dreams and visions. Among his most acclaimed paintings is Ethiopian Apple (1970), which is in the collection of the National Gallery of Jamaica.

An accomplished sculptor as well as an intuitive painter, Brown has also gained fame for his carved musical instruments. From the early 1970s he lived in rural Jamaica, where he devoted himself to art that promoted spiritual and environmental concerns.

See also Art in Latin America and the Caribbean.

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Carlos Dalmau

Born in San Juan, Puerto Rico, Campeche was the son of a free black father and a Spanish-born mother. Campeche started drawing at an early age, influenced by his father, who was an artisan. He later had contact with the Spanish painter Luis Paret, who was exiled for three years (1775–1778) in Puerto Rico. Paret, a more experienced and formally trained painter, greatly influenced the style of the gifted Campeche.

Campeche is best known for his paintings of religious images and political figures. Among his works we find some of the first artistic representations of blacks in colonial slave society: the Exvoto de la Sagrada Familia (around 1800, Institute of Puerto Rican Culture Collection) and the street scene in Gobernador Ustariz (1789–1792, Institute of Puerto Rican Culture Collection). Another example is the artist's lost Self-Portrait that survives in two copies done by Ramón ...

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Flora González

María Campos-Pons's multipanel photographs, installations, and performances often portray a mythic or ironic view of the self-portrait. She often uses her own body as a canvas onto which she inscribes symbolic messages that define her individual self in terms of domestic rituals and her national identity in relation to mythic origins.

Born in Matanzas, Cuba, to parents who labored in and about the sugar industry, Campos-Pons enjoyed the benefits of a universally free education instituted in Cuba after the 1959 revolution headed by Fidel Castro. She received her artistic training at the National School of Art (1980) and the Higher Institute of Art (1985), both in Havana. In 1988 she attended the Massachusetts College of Art in Boston. Subsequently, she married Neil Leonard an American and established residency in the United States Her works have been exhibited throughout Europe and the Americas since ...

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Joëlle Vitiello

Georges Castera became interested in literature first in Haiti, then in high school in Montpellier, France, where he discovered the surrealists and the Négritude poets. It was during his stay in France that he also began to draw. Upon returning to Haiti, encouraged by Paul Laraque, he began to write in Creole. Castera has spent more than twenty years outside Haiti, mostly in Spain and the United States. He has always remained firmly connected to a popular imagination, both Haitian and international.

One of the best known Haitian poets Castera does not see himself as part of the artistic establishment despite his strong influence on the younger generation of poets Poetry is for him a fundamentally revolutionary act Writing in Creole implies an engagement in social and political issues as well as a reflection on the creative process Some of his poems parody the speeches of military leaders ...

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Leyla Keough

When William Davidson, a respected English cabinetmaker, found himself unemployed and poor as a result of the mechanization of the Industrial Revolution, he turned to a radical solution—the murder of English officials—to protest the social and economic injustices of early nineteenth-century Great Britain.

At his trial on charges of high treason against Great Britain, William Davidson professed that although he was a stranger to England in many ways, he could still claim the rights of an Englishman, “from having been in the country in my infancy.” The recognized son of the white attorney general of Jamaica and a black Jamaican woman, Davidson was brought to England for an education as a young boy. He remained there and became a cabinetmaker, until industrialization forced him into work at a poorhouse mill; at times he turned to crime in order to feed his wife and children.

Resenting this situation Davidson sought ...

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See also Art in Latin America and the Caribbean.

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Alonford James Robinson

Known to friends as Ollie, Oliver Wendell Harrington was born in Valhalla, New York, the eldest of Herbert Harrington and Eugenia Tarat's five children. He graduated from high school in 1929 and moved to New York City during the Harlem Renaissance.

Harrington attended the National Academy of Design, where he studied painting and drawing. By 1932 his comic strips were being featured in black newspapers, including the Pittsburgh Courier, New York Amsterdam News, and Baltimore Afro-American. Bootsie, a cartoon character who mimicked the styles and trends in the urban black community and who would become Harrington's most famous creation, first appeared in a comic strip called “Dark Laughter.” In 1958 a collection of Bootsie comic strips was published as Bootsie and Others.

In 1940 Harrington received his bachelor s in fine arts degree from the Yale University School of Fine Arts Two ...

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Paulette Smith

Hector Hyppolite's paintings drew international attention when art historian DeWitt Peters established the first art center in Haiti, which served as a catalyst for talented but unrecognized “naive” painters. Shortly after the center opened, Peters received a mysterious canvas from Philomé Obin depicting the arrival of U.S. president Franklin Roosevelt in Cap-Haïtien to lift the American occupation. This event led Peters to fully realize the museum's mission and the importance of Haitian painting as a vehicle for cultural and historical dissemination. Peters searched out Hyppolite and was startled by a sign he had painted on the door of a bar in Mont Rouis proclaiming “La Renaissance.”

In his birthplace of Saint-Marc, Hyppolite practiced the profession of houngan (a Vodou priest), and lived on the meager sums he earned as a house painter. Upon moving to Port-au-Prince he set aside house painting and established a painting studio which he ...

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Throughout his career, Wilfredo Lam was active in major art movements, including surrealism and modernism, and was associated with many of the best-known figures in the art world of his day, including Pablo Picasso and André Breton. Lam's surrealist compositions make use of his Afro-Chinese and Cuban ancestry, and his most famous paintings, including The Eternal Presence (1945) and The Jungle (1943), present his mythic, erotic, and syncretic inheritances in a supernatural and symbolic way. Lam's style is easily recognizable for its mysterious, spiritual dimension, which proceeds from his debt to African religious traditions in the Caribbean, as exemplified by Altar for Eleggua (1944 His style is also known for the abstract eroticized and fetishistic representations of body parts and African masks that melt into and surge out of jungle like landscapes of camouflage in the tropics He was a distinguished talent of ...

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Nicola Cooney

Jorge de Lima was the son of José Mateus de Lima, a wealthy businessman, and Delmira Simões Lima. He studied humanities at Maceió, the seaport capital city of Alagoas State, Brazil, and earned a degree in medicine, which he practiced in Maceió and Rio de Janeiro. He went on to become a university professor and local politician in Rio de Janeiro.

Lima's talent for writing emerged at an early age. He published his first poems, including “O Acendedor dos Lampiões” (The Street Lamp Lighters, 1907 in a small literary paper he produced while still in secondary school He spent his childhood living either at the stately house of a sugar plantation or the family s second home in the city These experiences inspired much of his literary work Both his father and his maternal grandfather were white abolitionists who refused to accept slave labor on ...

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Antônio Francisco Lisboa, better known by his nickname “Aleijadinho” (the Little Cripple), was born in Villa Rica do Ouro Preto, Minas Gerais, Brazil, where he later distinguished himself as an artist during the baroque and rococo artistic periods. The Minas Gerais variant of the baroque and rococo styles is distinct; unlike the coastal states of Rio de Janeiro and Bahia, whose frequent contact with Portugal kept the art and architecture of those provinces in tune with European artistic developments, Minas Gerias's location in the interior largely insulated it from European influences. Minas Gerais was also a more recently settled province, and it had few convents or monasteries of the regular orders, which would have otherwise encouraged the duplication of European architectural designs.

During the colonial era in Latin America the church was the center of social life and the principal patron of the arts Virtually all of Aleijadinho ...

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Alan West

Ana Mendieta was born in Cuba and emigrated to the United States with her family in 1961. She received an M.A. degree in painting (1972) and an M.F.A. in multimedia and video (1977), both from the University of Iowa. Though Mendieta sought to achieve the approval of the mainstream art world, her work as a Cuban and a feminist (she belonged to AIR, a feminist art cooperative) was created on the margins of conventional and avant-garde art.

The uprootedness of exile made Mendieta seek out the earth, literally. She crafted her work outdoors, often using her body as the medium or its gunpowder outline imprinted on the earth, evoking the gestures of Palo Mayombe rites. Critic Luis Camnitzer characterized Mendieta s conception of her relationship to the earth and to the physical world She would talk about her attraction to earth as the outgrowth ...

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Manuel Mendive was born in Havana, Cuba. At an early age his family introduced him to the Afro-Cuban religion Santería, and to this day he is a practitioner of this and other African-derived traditions. Mendive graduated in 1963 from the San Alejandro National School of Fine Arts in Havana as a painter. From the beginning of his artistic career, Mendive intentionally employed a “primitive” artistic style to express the myths and cosmology of Yoruba-derived traditions in Cuba.

The period from 1963 to 1968 is known as Mendive s dark period possibly the most important of his career During this time he focused on the representation of Afro Cuban myths with predominantly ochre tones and a blending of painting with sculpture and assemblage mixed media often using materials with ritual connotations In their appearance and conceptualization the works approximated certain Afro Cuban ritual objects without explicitly reflecting ...