Two University African and African-American studies professors came together and combined their courses recently to create the exhibit “Art, Identity, and Revolution in Africa and Cuba,” which is now showing at the Spencer Museum of Art.

Cecile Accilien and Jessica Gerschultz are colleagues in the African and African-American Studies department at the University. Accilien is currently teaching a class called Cuba in the Americas, while Gerschultz is teaching a class about modern and contemporary African art. The two professors took the subjects of their classes and intertwined them for a co-taught unit, studying African and Cuban artistic connection and revolution, Gerschultz said.

Students were assigned to select various works of art that revolved around certain themes: "Religious Syncretism," "When Racism Provokes Capitalism in Cuba and the US," "Syncretism and Religion" and "Colonization and Socialism." The students then researched works of art in order to correctly portray their theme.

The exhibit features powerful pieces, such as “Untitled (Extending Friendship to the Lynched Negroes)” by the late Cuban artist, Atilano Armenteros Ramos and “Untitled (Condemnation of Labor Exploitation)” by the late Cuban artist, Carmelo González Iglesias.

 

Ramos’ piece, for example, displays three men hung in a tree with two men in front, assumed to be the criminals. Iglesias’s piece depicts a man receiving a large amount of money while a sign over his head states that he supports the KKK.

Accilien said the exhibit was completed because of the collaborative work of her and Gerschultz’s students. The two professors paired their students so that each student had the opportunity to work with another member of the class, teaching each other what they had been learning from their own class. The two pieces are some of the few in the collection of art brought together by students at the University. The exhibit will be on display through April 23.

"The students learned a lot," Gerschultz said. "The classes really gelled together."

— Edited by Ashley Hocking