isla de espuma

Thousands of miles away, through the heart of winter and in the silence of a fresh snowfall, I can feel the sun on my body as I lay in bed. My practice comes from the salty, warm, alive space between Miami and Cuba. The waters which separate and connect these two coasts are the site of my history and in my work I draw from this connection to trace an ecocritical understanding of water from a Cuban perspective.

Isla de espuma (island of foam) is a research and creation project which began in the summer of 2020. Water has always been in the poetic lexicon of Cuba’s culture(s), as the bodies of water which carve the outline of the island contain the chemical and generational memories of Cuba’s history. For Cuba, water becomes a porous boundary with the capacity to remember, dilute, unite, and create. This artwork is a reflection of my Cuban ecocritical research and the story of my father’s voyage. Isla de espuma is a project which originates from my personal narrative and moves through the multifaceted history of the island of Cuba.

My father was one of tens of thousands of balseros who migrated from Cuba to the Florida Keys in makeshift rafts in the 90’s during the Special Period in Time of Peace, an ongoing economic crisis which caused financial hardship and material scarcity for most of Cuba’s diverse population. I was born in Miami five years after my father’s arrival. With Isla de espuma I work through my own memories and family stories as a point of departure for my exploration into the physical, historical, and symbolic roles that bodies of water take in the Cuban Diaspora.

mar de mil cantos, isla de espuma.
cyanotype on fabric, wood.
Photos by Alex Apostolidis.
Special thanks to Fine Arts Student Alliance Concordia for funding this project.