Imna Arroyo, professor of art at Eastern Connecticut State University, and Roberto Zurbano, Cuban poet and visiting scholar at Connecticut College, will present “Opening the Path,” on Oct. 3 in the Paul E. Johnson Sr. Community Conference Room of Eastern’s J. Eugene Smith Library.
Zurbano’s presentation, “The Impatient Shadows,” begins at 3:30 p.m. Zurbano believes important works of art have uncovered the blanket of silence on the issue of race, which he says pervades Cuban society in multiple layers. “There are ancestral shadows, tearful and deep wounds that must be acknowledged and healed. A battle against the darkness and the silence has been unleashed in today’s Cuba, in the doors of the 21st century, through a social activism that rejects other forms of discrimination, in search of light and plentitude for all Cubans.”
At 5 p.m., Arroyo will present her artist book, “Elleguá,” as a gift to the J. Eugene Smith Library, with copies of the book also being gifted to the libraries at Central, Western and Southern Connecticut State Universities. Elegguá, also known as Elegbá, is inspired by storytelling traditions on themes from Beninese and Afro-Cuban Yoruba trickster tales. The limited edition of 50 copies contains linoleum cut prints created by 12 visual artists and text from two writers.
In addition to Zurbano and Arroyo, project director of Elleguá, the book features Raouf Mama, writer, storyteller and English professor at Eastern;; Cynthia Guild and Amanda Lebel, lecturers in Eastern’s Visual Arts Department; and nine Cuban artists. Yuneikys Villalonga, curator and art critic of the book; Humberto Figueroa, director of the museum at the University of Puerto Rico in Cayey; journalist Bessie Reyna and Eastern alumna Migdalia Salas served as translators for the book. Eastern alumnus James Nicholas Winner-Arroyo designed the book.
Elegguá is published by New York City-based Ancestral Imprint. The artwork was printed at the Taller Experimental de la Gráfica de la Habana, Cuba and Ama-Bel Press Printmaking Studio in Willimantic.
Zurbano, majored in language and literature at the Universidad de la Havana, and completed advance studies at the Casa de las Américas, el Instituto de Literatura y Lingüística de Cuba and the Sorbonne in Paris, France. He is a visiting scholar at the Center for Comparative Study of Race and Ethnicity at Connecticut College from Sept. 20 through to Oct. 31. His visit is sponsored in collaboration with the Hispanic Alliance of Southeastern Connecticut.