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

Eight Reasons to Visit Iran in 2016

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Discover the ancient wonders and modern complexities of Iran, home to 7,000 years of civilization, when you experience “Iconic Iran: A Journey Through Persia,” from October 20 to November 5, 2016. This trip of a lifetime features the landmarks of Tehran, Shiraz, and Isfahan (which Condé Nast Traveler describes as “a beautiful city of ancient mosques with elaborate mosaics”), as well as Persepolis and several less-visited destinations.

Here are just a few reasons to explore Iran with Academic Arrangements Abroad this fall:

1.) Nine UNESCO World Heritage Sites
Iran has an impressive list of 19 World Heritage Sites. On this program, visit nine of them, including the Golestan Palace Complex in Tehran and Isfahan’s spectacular Friday Mosque and Imam Square. At Pasargadae and Persepolis, explore the vast ruins of the palaces of the great kings Cyrus and Darius, and venture to the lesser-known sites at Bisotun, Choga Zanbil, and Shustar.

Met curator Christopher Lightfoot

Met curator Christopher Lightfoot

2.) Lecturer Christopher Lightfoot
Travel through millennia with this curator in the Department of Greek and Roman Art at The Metropolitan Museum of Art. A scholar of ancient history, Dr. Lightfoot has an in-depth knowledge of the Achaemenid, Parthian, and Sassanian periods in Iran.

3.) The museums of Tehran
Admire dazzling collections at the National Museum, the newly reopened Islamic Era Museum, and the spectacular Jewels Museum.

tour guide Bahman Zenhari

Tour guide Bahman Zenhari

4.) A superb guide
Our experienced guide, Bahman Zenhari, has been leading tours for Arrangements Abroad since 2010. He and his colleagues work hard to make sure travelers experience the country to its fullest, whether this means sharing their knowledge of Iran’s history or buying local delicacies for you to try.

Persian treats, photo by Sara Kosyk

Persian treats, photo by Sara Kosyk

5.) Amazing Persian cuisine
Iran’s cuisine features fluffy bread baked in clay ovens, fabulous ice cream, and rice dishes decorated with a rainbow of spices, fruits, and nuts. Our meals are often in local restaurants, in order to sample traditional dishes, which vary regionally.

Sunny Tehran

Tehran skyline

6.) Beautiful and diverse landscapes
Pass through scenic landscapes including dramatic snow-capped mountains, striking desert regions, and lush valleys. Admire the colorful gardens at city parks and palaces.

7.) Shopping in historic bazaars
Stroll through Shiraz’s colorful Vakil Bazaar, where almost 200 merchants sell spices, clothing, carpets, and more. In Isfahan, visit the vast Qeisarieh Bazaar, with time to browse the hundreds of shops displaying arts, antiques, and handicrafts.

Download Brochure
NOTE ABOUT IRANIAN VISAS:
Because applying for an Iranian visa is a lengthy process, we ask that all reservations for this October program be confirmed no later than June 15, 2016.

To find out more about this extraordinary journey or to reserve a place, please call Abigail Graszl at 212-514-8921, extension 38, or 800-221-1944, or email her at abigail@arrangementsabroad.com.
Academic Arrangements Abroad, together with leading cultural and educational institutions, is proud to offer a diverse portfolio of exceptional trips.
http://www.arrangementsabroad.com/

6 Unusual Attractions in Amsterdam

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The Cat Cabinet Museum, copyright Jorge Royan, via Wikimedia Commons

Move over, Rijksmuseum. Step aside, Barney’s Coffeeshop. These 6 unusual attractions will give you an insider’s look at Amsterdam most tourists never dreamed of.

1.  The Cat Cabinet Museum

If you have a fondness for felines, pussyfoot on over to this cathouse, created in honor of John Pierpont Morgan (the founder’s pet, not to be confused with the American fat cat). The Katten Kabinet, as it’s known in Dutch, is full of posters, sculptures, drawings, and paintings of adorable furballs.

2.  The Museum of Bags and Purses

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Photo by Bert Knottenbeld.

Housed in a historic canal house, this collection of more than 5,000 items dates back to the 16th century and includes purses that once belonged to Madonna and Margaret Thatcher. (Fun fact: The oldest purse on display was worn by a man.)

 

3.  Micropia

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By Goldstein lab – tardigrades 

Just next door to Amsterdam’s acclaimed Artis Royal Zoo, this museum is dedicated to the two-thirds of all life that is invisible — microorganisms too small to be seen with the naked eye. It’s teeming with fascinating information about these surprisingly beautiful creatures (our favorite is the cuddly-creepy tardigrade, or “water bear” — the only animal that can survive in outer space).

 

4. The John & Yoko Suite

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By Nationaal Archief, Den Haag, Rijksfotoarchief: Fotocollectie Algemeen Nederlands Fotopersbureau (ANEFO), 1945-1989

In 1969, John Lennon and Yoko Ono staged a week-long “bed-in” at the Amsterdam Hilton in protest of the Vietnam War. Today, Suite 702, where the couple stayed, contains photos, a guitar, song lyrics, and other memorabilia approved by Yoko herself. It can be reserved for about $2,000 per night.

5.  The Museum Vrolik

Named for its founders, a team of father-and-son anatomy professors, this display of preserved skeletons, body parts, fetuses, and other oddities assembled in the 19th century is not for the fainthearted.

6. Dutch Funeral Museum (website in Dutch only)

Far more palatable is this interesting small museum on the grounds of a turn-of-the-century municipal cemetery. The room with seven coffins illuminates the funerary traditions of the Netherlands’ diverse religions and cultures: Protestant, Catholic, Jewish, Muslim, Chinese, Creole, and Hindu; other exhibitions explore how we remember our dead and our emotions toward the final stage of life.

By the way, there are still a few cabins left on our Dutch & Flemish Landscapes cruise. It includes an afternoon at leisure in the Dutch capital, during which you may want to visit some of these quirky places.

If you liked this post, you might also like our post about unusual food museums around the world.  Wait ’til after lunch to read it, though!

Academic Arrangements Abroad, together with leading cultural and educational institutions, is proud to offer a diverse portfolio of exceptional trips. For additional information, call us at (800) 221-1944 or email trips@arrangementsabroad.com.

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

Travel to Cuba: Learning from the Experts

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John Welsh and Kate Klorer on the Bacunayagua Bridge, Cuba

Arrangements Abroad has been taking Americans to Cuba since 1999, and those 16 years recently paid off for Assistant Tour Coordinator John Welsh. He just returned from accompanying a Metropolitan Museum of Art group to the island and can’t stop raving about the trip.“The combination of tour guide David Camps and tour director Kate Klorer, and a wonderful group of flexible, attentive travelers made for a fabulous program,” John says. His favorite experience? Meeting the people: “I now have this intimate, positive view of Cubans that’s so different from what we often see in American media,” he says. “It was also an awesome opportunity to learn from a great team about how to take care of travelers.”

The Art & Architecture of Cuba
Havana, Matanzas & Varadero
March 26 to April 2, 2016
With Met lecturer Inés Powell
Please click to view brochure