08.03.2018
The New York Times

Overlooked No More: Belkis Ayón, a Cuban Printmaker Inspired by a Secret Male Society

Sandra E. Garcia

Since 1851, obituaries in The New York Times have been dominated by white men. With Overlooked, we’re adding the stories of remarkable women.

In 1993, the Cuban printmaker Belkis Ayón, known for her signature collage-based style and her work reflecting the Afro-Cuban religion Abukuá, was invited to show at the Venice Biennale in Italy. She was determined to make it, despite obstacles in her home country. Cuba was going through an economic depression at that time, leaving it dark and uncertain, with drastic food and fuel shortages.

With no other way to get to the airport 20 miles from their home in Havana, she and her father mounted their bikes and started riding. Ms. Ayón raced ahead of her father, who rode with her work strapped to his bicycle. She made it in time to board, but he did not — and neither did her work (though it did eventually make the trip).

For Ms. Ayón, who was born Jan. 23, 1967, in Havana, art was how she communicated.

“It is the way, the manner, the solution that I found to say what I wanted,” she said in an interview in Revolución y Cultura Magazine in February 1999.

When Ms. Ayón was small, her bountiful energy exhausted her mother, who when the girl was 5 enrolled her in an art program at the Máximo Gómez library in Havana. Ms. Ayón flourished and began to enter national and international art competitions, winning awards and honors. In 1976, her work was featured in a painting competition for children in Hyvinkää, Finland.

Belkis was the only girl who won a prize, taking second place, her sister, Katia, said in an interview from Havana.

Full article at: NY Times

Belkis Ayón in 1998 at the Couturier Gallery in Los Angeles with her work, “Perfidia,” which she completed that year. Image: The New York Times

Overlooked No More: Belkis Ayón, a Cuban Printmaker Inspired by a Secret Male Society

By April 3, 2018News, Press

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