Visual Art Professor Opens “Cuba Inside/Out” in South Bend
You never know where you will find Assistant Professor and Chair of Visual Arts Christopher Stackowicz. If he is not teaching a class or spending time in the studio, he is probably not on campus. In fact, he may not even be in the country. In 2011, Stackowicz traveled to both Ancient Greece and to Cuba in order to pursue his artistic specialty of interactive panoramic photography.
Stackowicz recently shared about his adventures in Cuba and his upcoming exhibition, entitled “Cuba Inside/Out.”
Q: How did the idea to shoot drama and street theatre in Cuba come about?
A: Dr. Yael Prizant, a dramaturgy professor at Notre Dame, had seen a number of my photographs from Greece and inquired as to whether I would be able to come to Cuba and shoot photos for her upcoming book. I agreed and while there shot some 100,000 usable photos. I existed solely behind the lens of the camera.
Q: How did you incorporate your experiences into your artwork?
A: Dr. Prizant and I went through [the photos] and separated them out into three specific themed shows: street and the drama of the street, tourism and nostalgia and the concept of revolution and how Cubans view it when they live in a perpetual state of revolution.
Q: What is your favorite thing about your display?
A: The photos are both insightful and stunningly beautiful, which I believe is the work of the place, not the artist. Each photo has the ability to convey layered messages, and the meanings seem to change as much as the richly saturated streetscape. The attitudes, the lifestyles, the communication [and] the environment all have a slight twist to them that make them feel completely different than a street scene in New York or Chicago.
Q: Did you notice any artistic differences between Cuba and the States?
A: Their artistic and cultural education far surpasses anything we have here. In a way, the people do not just know the arts; they actively support and promote them. Unlike American culture, Cubans find that art adds to the space and environment of the city in ways another corporate office cannot.
Q: If you could change one thing about art in our community, what would it be?
A: People need to feel pride about where they live to create a successful community. If the city is based purely on economics, the community becomes transient … In Cuba, the artists are valued, needed and celebrated. In our area, we are mocked and constantly made to feel less important than the man with the suit and tie.
Q: Besides your photos, what else will guests experience at the exhibition?
A: [There will be] reproductions of current Cuban signage as one would see walking down the street, [which are] being painted by a number of people including students from IUSB and Bethel and various local artists. The background voices to the show are remixed excerpts from Cuban speeches.
Q: What is so special about the location of the exhibit?
A: LangLab South Bend is the one place in town where the arts are not just appreciated and enjoyed, but celebrated as the primary focus of all activity within the space. Rami Sadek, one of the directors, has graciously converted an entire 1,500-square-foot space into a new gallery that enables more local artists to share their work. The space is designed to facilitate any media including installation and will be a fantastic alternative venue to the more formal academic and museum galleries in town.
Stackowicz’s newest photography exhibition will be featured at South Bend’s new gallery space, LangLab. The opening reception is scheduled for Friday, April 27 from 6 to 9 p.m. and will run until Aug. 1. The exhibit is free, family friendly and open to the public. For more information, contact Langlab.firstname.lastname@example.org.