Artists We Love: Maria Cienfuegos

Travelers on our people-to-people Cuba programs sometimes visit the Miramar home of visual artist Maria Cienfuegos, where she showcases her work as well as that of other young artists.  Her artist-run cooperative, dubbed Studio 7 y 60 (or Septima Y Sesenta), has existed since 2010, when Maria and three collaborators decided to use her family’s apartment as a venue to present their creations directly to the public.

maria-cienfuegosMuch of Maria’s art explores the concept of memory. On her website, Maria, who has a background in biology as well as art, writes: “I approach my work from the hybrid sensitivity that arises from the mutual influence of art and science. My photographs emerge from the counterbalance between these two forms of operation, which I regard as complementary. Within this dynamic I am interested in the social/anthropological processes which traverse the categories of thought and image. It is my personal quest to go inside spaces of remembrance and forgetfulness. Photography is my way of not only adding and revealing layers to the process of reminiscence; but also of participating in this cryptic accumulation.”

On a recent journey to Havana, we captured these images of the artist and her studio space. Find out more about her artist-run space, Studio 7 y 60, here.You can also read an article about the studio on Cuban Art News.

To find out more about Academic Arrangements Abroad, one of the pioneers in offering legal travel to Cuba, visit our website. Since 1999, we have helped thousands of Americans discover the rich history and culture of this once-inaccessible nation.

Our president, Jim Friedlander, who has traveled to Cuba more than 50 times, has also created the Havana Heritage Foundation, which is dedicated to protecting and preserving the architecture and culture of Havana.  For more information or to make a tax-deductible contribution, click here.

Richard Serra’s Afangar

Is this Lewis, Shetland, or Orkney? Nope: It’s the island of Videy, near Reykjavik. And these are not millennia-old monoliths but sculptures erected in 1990 by Richard Serra.

Called Afangar (“Standing Stones”), this is a site-specific installation of nine pairs of basalt columns ranging from nine to 13 feet tall.

Serra was asked to create a public work for Reykjavik but found inspiration in the wild and rugged terrain outside the city. Extracted from a nearby quarry, the stones are carefully positioned in an area of this small (.7 square mile) island, spread out to elicit wandering and viewing from different perspectives in a landscape that includes water, a working harbor, plentiful bird life, tiny beaches, a great expanse of sky, and windswept grass.

Afangar3Scoreand More

Uninhabited since 1943, this island had a population that peaked in 1930 with 138 residents.  With archaeological evidence of settlement dating to circa 900 A.D., Videy has witnessed many changes. Over the years it has housed a monastery, wool mill, printing press, dairy farm, and fish factory. In addition to Afangar, now visitors find one of Iceland’s oldest stone houses (now a café-museum), its second-oldest stone church, and an installation by Yoko Ono called Imagine Peace Tower, a circular monument from which a beam of light sometimes projects into the sky.

Travelers on September’s “Fire & Ice: Iceland Natura” program will visit the tiny, pristine island of Videy. Led by The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Pari Stave, an Icelandic art expert, visitors will discover Serra’s largest landscape project, meet local artists, and marvel at the aurora borealis.

Photo courtesy of 3scoreandmore

The Hippest Spot in Havana

Cuba_FAC_Vimeo_snip

History is on the move and Cuba’s capital is no longer a prisoner of the past. A recent New York Times feature on Cuba noted that El Cocinero restaurant, where our January travelers to Havana will enjoy dinner, “makes Brooklyn look as cool as a suburban Ikea.” After sampling the empanadas and hot crab dip at this cooking-oil-factory-turned-hipster-haven, you can wander next door to the Fábrica de Arte Cubano (Cuban Art Factory), which the Times called “a mix of CBGB, Art Basel Miami, a community center, a coffee shop, a bar (or two or three), and a bomb shelter.” Who could resist?

The Art & Architecture of Havana
January 14 – 21, 2017

With Stephanie Herdrich, Assistant Research Curator at The Metropolitan Museum of Art

 

 

 

 

The Least Stuffy Speaker You’ll Ever Hear

Sandra_Jackson-Dumont

Sandra Jackson-Dumont

Don’t miss the chance to travel to Cuba this fall with Sandra Jackson-Dumont of The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Sandra, who leads The Met’s education programs, is known for her refreshingly non-academic lectures, which use pop culture elements like music and movement to engage non-traditional audiences. (Her signature “Teens Take The Met” events consistently draw thousands of young people — with no eye-rolling.) Even if you’ve been to Cuba with us before, Sandra’s approach will open a new window onto this intriguing Caribbean island. Watch her talk about Soul Train and impostor syndrome and learn more about the trip.

Emeralds in the Sky

Aurora borealis above Reykjavik. By Mike Theiss.

Aurora borealis above Reykjavik, Iceland. Photo by Mike Theiss at http://www.ExtremeNature.com

What are crystalline pieces of earthly carbon compared to the celestial dance of the aurora borealis? Join the Met’s first trip to Iceland, scheduled during an optimal time for witnessing the wondrously colorful Northern Lights. Lecturer Pari Stave, who has visited the country five times, will open doors to important artists’ studios and private collections.

Fire & Ice: Iceland Natura
September 15 to 23, 2016
With Pari Stave, Senior Administrator in the Department of Modern and Contemporary Art at The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Please click for more information

Valencia’s Vibrant Treasures

ceramicValencia, Spain, was founded by the Romans in 138 BC. Today the city is known for innovative architecture, magnificent museums, and colorful ceramics. During an eight-night cruise, see the tiles and vases for which Valencia is famous at the National Ceramics Museum, housed in a palace that dates from the 15th century.

Jewels of the Western Mediterranean
Rome to Malaga Aboard Sea Cloud II
May 11 to 20, 2016
With art historian Frank Dabell
Please click to view brochure

The Queen of Rivers

Budapest by night. Photo by SuperCar-RoadTripfr

Budapest by night. Photo by SuperCar-RoadTripfr

National Geographic Traveler recently named the Danube River one of its must-see places for 2016. “The Danube River has been the main thoroughfare across central and eastern Europe for millennia,” writes Bill Fink. “Herodotus called it the ‘greatest of all rivers’ 2,500 years ago, and it still may be.” Experience what Napoleon dubbed the “Queen of Europe’s rivers” aboard Royal Crown next June.

The Lower Danube: Medieval to Modern
Vienna to Bucharest Aboard Royal Crown
June 10 to 21, 2016
With Jayson Kerr Dobney, Associate Curator in the Department of Musical Instruments at The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Please click to view brochure

Celebrating Celle

Celle, Germany. Photo by yeowatzup

Celle, Germany. Photo by yeowatzup

Next summer, spend time in picturesque Celle on The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Gems of Northern Europe program. This German town’s pink-and-white Ducal Palace was the country castle of the Royal House of Hanover, the oldest European royal dynasty still in existence. Wander the Baroque staterooms and picture a medieval feast taking place in the beautifully restored banqueting hall.


Gems of Northern Europe
Hamburg, Hannover & The Hague
June 5 to 16, 2016
With Olivier Bernier, lecturer at The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Please click to view brochure

Romantic Royal Dining

State Dining Room at Hillsborough Castle. Photo by Aaron McCracken/Harrisons, courtesy Historic Royal Palaces

State Dining Room at Hillsborough Castle. Photo by Aaron McCracken/Harrisons, courtesy Historic Royal Palaces

Admire the exquisite interiors of Hillsborough Castle, the official residence of members of the British Royal Family in Northern Ireland, and dine under the glittering chandelier in the State Dining Room. Guests on this extraordinary trip will also lunch at Castle Leslie, where Paul McCartney was married in 2002, and enjoy dinner at romantic Crom Castle.

Houses & Gardens of Northern Ireland
April 30 to May 9, 2016
With author and horticulturist Patrick Bowe
Please click to view brochure

Meet One of Our Tour Coordinators, Kalea Wiseman

Kalea in Patagonia

Kalea in Patagonia

Kalea Wiseman just celebrated her one-year anniversary at Academic Arrangements Abroad, where she started out as an Assistant Tour Coordinator. Prior to joining the firm, Kalea worked designing, selling, and leading educational trips to Cuba. She attended the University of San Diego—where she earned degrees in political science and Spanish—and also studied abroad in Havana, Cuba, and Montevideo, Uruguay. In early 2016, Kalea will become a Tour Development Coordinator working in Cuba and New York.

What is your hometown?

The Pacific Northwest is my homeland. I was born in Seattle, Washington, and raised in Salem, Oregon. I’ve traveled around that whole part of the country.

Who would play you in a movie?

Being the girl from Dirty Dancing Havana Nights would be my ideal situation.

City you most recommend to friends

Havana. Always Havana. It’s just such an enchanting, mysterious, welcoming place. It surprises me every time I go. It also changes every time I go.

What city would you drop everything to see?

I would love to go to Istanbul. I have a dear friend from college who is from Turkey, and she always brought back the most beautiful jewelry and crafts. I think it would be interesting to visit.

What do you enjoy working on the most for Arrangements Abroad?

I really love tour directing, which is probably why I’ll be doing a lot more of it next year. I love helping people have really interesting and unique experiences on the ground.

Special skills

Salsa dancing, speaking Spanish, and enjoying life!

Most visited websites

Cuba Absolutely, OnCuba, and The Havana Times  for information about Cuba, and The New York Times for general news.

Kalea WisemanWhat is something about you that surprises people?

The first time people hear me speak Spanish. Native Spanish speakers are especially surprised because I look so American, but I speak Spanish with a strong Cuban accent.

What are some things you can’t travel without?

A few nice dresses (they’re easy to wear, but they look good), a notebook (to take notes about trips and remember details and experiences), and a sense of humor.

Number of trips traveled on

While I was studying abroad in Montevideo, I traveled around Uruguay and also visited Buenos Aires and Patagonia in Argentina. Other countries I’ve visited include Spain, Portugal, and Mexico.

With Academic Arrangements Abroad, I’ve taken three trips to Cuba, with another one coming up soon and many more to come.

Anything else you’d like to add?

I’m looking forward to spending more time in Cuba and working with our really experienced Tour Directors there.

Kalea in Cuba

Kalea in Cuba