Cultural Bricolage Conference features work of Cuban artists

By Katie Pohlman


The conference will conclude with discussion sessions and lectures Monday and Tuesday.

The Cultural Bricolage Conference regarding Ediciones Vigía books will focus on the artwork of Rolando Estévez Jordán and his fellow artists. The conference began Saturday and will run through Tuesday.

Located in Matanzas, Cuba, the publishing company Ediciones Vigía takes books, poems and essays and creates page and cover designs for them using natural materials. Designs are made with materials ranging from sand to used soda cans.

The conference will be provocative to its attendees, said Berkley Hudson, associate journalism professor and member of the Cultural Bricolage Conference’s committee. He said the committee found MU professor and filmmaker Juanamaria Cordones-Cook’s passion about these artists infectious, and he hopes the audience feels that same passion.

“This (conference) helps us think about how beautiful art is when made organically,” Hudson said.

The conference began Saturday with a Cuban music concert. The remaining days of the conference will discuss the pieces of work designed by Vigía artists.

On Sunday, two short documentaries directed by Cordones-Cook were shown to audience members who filled the lecture hall in Pickard Hall. The first film showed the process of creating one of Estéve’s sculptures that was based on a poem by Cuban author Nancy Morejón titled “I Love My Master.”

After the documentary, Jordán unveiled his sculpture to the audience as Morejón read her poem.

A panel discussion between Morejón and Jordán and moderated by Cordones-Cook followed. The two artists described their view of the poem and sculpture and took audience questions.

Graduate student Caitlin Carter, who was one of many students attending Sunday’s events, said her favorite part was watching the sculpture being unveiled while Morejón read the poem aloud.

“It was really cool to see text, visuals and spoken word come together,” Carter said.

The night ended with the showing of Cordones-Cook’s second documentary, which introduced Vigía to the audience. The film touched on the company’s methods, vision and place in Cuban culture.

Cordones-Cook said she was very excited to show her films to the conference attendees.

“It’s wonderful to see the reactions from everyone,” she said. “It’s very enriching.”

The conference will conclude with discussion sessions and lectures on Monday and Tuesday.

Monday’s discussion sessions will focus on the crossing of art and literature in Cuban and global culture, according to the Cultural Bricolage Conference’s website. Different MU faculty members will chair each session. Conference attendees will have a choice of at least two different discussions to attend during specific times throughout the day.

Tuesday’s events will include speakers such as Morejón and professors from other universities. Cordones-Cook’s third documentary will also be screened.

Morejón and Brazilian poet Salgado Maranhão will be reading poetry at 4 p.m. Wednesday in Strickland Hall as the post-conference event.

Cordones-Cook said she is glad there have been so many conference attendees so far and that she hopes those numbers continue. Hudson said he shares those hopes.

“We wanted it to be packed,” he said. “And there was a great response.”

Cordones-Cook said she is happy to be able to share Ediciones Vigía’s style of art with the MU and Columbia communities and with professors from other universities around the country through the conference.

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