By: Marissa Perez
A glimpse at Havana, Cuba has been brought to Benedictine University. Saturday, January 23, the university’s art gallery hosted an art exhibition named “Cuba City”, led by artist, Clifton Henri.
Henri is an award-winning photographer and visual artist from Chicago. He began his career as an art director for a small advertising agency; later transitioning into a full-time independent Henri has had exhibits across the country. His work has been added to many private and public collections and is currently on tour, all while working on a new body of work.
He came in and talked to the students and guests. Henri talked about how he went about his work in Cuba within the last year. It was the first travel trip to Havana for this artist. Henri’s photographs capture his first impressions of the people on the streets and their culture. It was a beautifully framed show with a variety of clear photographs that range from candid shots young children and families doing every day activities to kids and teens posed in the urban settings of Havana.
“With this body of work, he did talk about the fact that it was different for him as an artist for him to try to photograph his subjects because this is more like street photography… you can’t arrange the lights, you can’t manipulate anything to change the scene. You have to capture the more immediacy of the moment,” comments Curator of the Art Gallery and University Art Collection, Teresa Parker.
These images provide the observances from the viewpoint of an outsider to this culture that has been closed off to the world. The exhibition is very insightful and eye opening to Henri. It gave him the opportunity to see the resourcefulness and poverty that the people of Cuba have coped with over the years.
Parker met the talented artist last fall in Naperville, where he was taking part in an art show in the city’s River Walk. “I saw his card and I saw the images and it just really popped,” said Parker.
The art gallery ended up having a last minute cancellation of another show and Parker’s mind immediately thought of Henri. She called the artist and he had the work that she was interested in from Havana City.
“Essentially, I am a storyteller… and the job of any great storyteller is to communicate in a way that both entices the audience and ignites their imagination,” writes Henri in a personal statement. “These images are meant to empower and inspire all those that engage with them, which also happens to be the creative pulse behind my body of work.”
Henri says that he was deeply influenced by imagery from the Civil Rights Movement and the Harlem Renaissance; they define his style of work. “Their ability to capture emotion, intrigue the mind, and tell a story inspires me and fuels my commitment to produce work that does the same,” said Henri.
The exhibition will only be here through February 29, so the opportunity witness a culture that is not well known to the world is available for only a while longer. All students and faculty are encouraged to come to the art gallery located on the fifth floor of Kindlon Hall, to see the Cuba City exhibition. For more information, or to find out about future exhibitions, contact Teresa Parker by phone (630) 829-6270 or by email firstname.lastname@example.org.