Afro-Cuban Visit – Obama and Cuba

aptopixcubaobamapace3239416233_t1070_h46c77d765fd3c5401696b1d1798551b98cb244c9This picture of the Obama family arriving in Cuba is iconic. The headline in Huffington Post read “Obama in Havana.” The picture resonates with many other images, so I keep thinking about it. The photographer got lucky, was in the right place at the right time, lined up a perfect shot, at least to my untutored eye. The picture makes me think of Afro-Cuban art, the image of umbrellas that runs through African American art, second line parades in New Orleans, and the way that blocky and flowing images dominate those genres. Even though the color is stark, it’s still lovely.
FormationBeyonce’s “Formation” shows how iconic the umbrella is in African American imagery, especially in New Orleans. This is a screen shot from the video. In the video, the umbrella scenes are always dark, and shot in poor lighting with a sepia background, but the antebellum imagery is easily recognizable.

250px-Funeral_Procession_by_Ellis_WilsonAnyone who watched the Cosby Show would recognize this painting. It’s called “Funeral Procession” by Ellis Wilson. I thought of this painting right away when I saw the Obama photo.

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Umbrella1detailThese two paintings are by African-American artist Joseph Holston.

fathom-travel-cuba-street-artSome Afro-Cuban street art – it has the same bright, eye-catching colors as the street art in New Orleans and in much AfricanAmerican art I’ve seen. The street art that catches my attention is modernist and blocky.

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Two paintings by Afro-Cuban artist Corey Bankston from Nashville.

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And last but not least, to make the point, here is the signature Mardi Gras icon.

The momentous occasion of Obama visiting Havana was historically and culturally important, and I’m glad the photographer caught the spirit of the trip in this picture.

 

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