DOYLESTOWN, PA.- Black and white photographs depicting tobacco farmers, their families and a rural landscape in Cuba's Pinar del Rio Province are on view in the Pfundt Gallery at the James A. Michener Art Museum in Doylestown from August 16, 2008 through January 4, 2009. Cuba: Camp Adentro, meaning "deep within the country," is a series by Philadelphia photographer Susan S. Bank who stumbled upon an agricultural community in the Valley of Vinales in 2002 while on break from a project in Havana. Working simply with a 35mm camera on return visits to barrio Cuajaní over the next five years, Bank documented 10 households who appeared to have never before been photographed, growing their own food, surviving without any modern conveniences and a living a life firmly anchored in family, neighbors, animals and love of their land.
Cuba: Campo Adentro is sponsored by Mary Lou and Andrew Abruzzese of The Pineville Tavern.
According to Kristy Krivitsky, the Museum's Associate Curator of Contemporary Art, "Susan Bank's photographs are not just documents of farmers living in rural Cuba. They are powerful compositions in which people, animals and landscape are integrated into a new kind of whole. The photographs act as a visual diary of her time immersed in that culture and the result is poetic, fantastical and compelling."
Bank received her artistic training at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia, and also studied in Mexico with the renowned photographers Mary Ellen Mark and Graciela Iturbide and later with Constantine Manos in Havana. Her work has been published in such prestigious publications as Camera Arts and The Photo Review. The Campo Adentro series has received various local and national awards including the Fleischer Challenge Award, Perkins Center Juror's Award, Texas Photo Project and Santa Fe Project Competition Juror's Choice Award. Bank was the recipient of a Leeway Foundation grant in 2002. Prior to Cuba: Campo Adentro, Bank's most widely recognized work is a series of photographs that document the people of the resort town of Salisbury Beach, Massachusetts.
"Having grown-up in a depressed but culturally rich New England island village in the 1940s, I shared with the campesinos (tobacco farmers) a sense of 'tamed space' and community life," explains Bank in the preface of the exhibition catalogue. "Unlike Walker Evans who was assigned to Cuba in 1933 to expose poverty for Carlton Beals' book The Crime of Cuba, or Dorothea Lange who followed migrant workers during the Great Depression for the Farm Security Administration, I had no political agenda. I had no intent to disturb life in el campo. I did, however, have to guard against drifting into a romantic vision of a way of life that on the surface appeared to be exotic and perfectly harmonious."
Her goal, as she says, was both "to show the raw, essential details of daily life and at the same time dig deeper, to transcend the reality of what is there, and to confront the enigma of human nature."
An accompanying monograph entitled Cuba: Campo Adentro is available for $50.00 in the Museum Shop ($45.00 for Museum members). Published in June 2008 by Sagamore Press (Philadelphia), this bilingual hardcover consists of 84 pages, 48 black and white images printed in quad-tone, a preface by the artist and an essay by esteemed Cuban art critic Juan Antonio Molina.
In conjunction with this exhibition, the Museum presents an artist's lecture and book signing with Susan S. Bank on Tuesday, October 14, 2008 from 1:00 to 2:00 p.m. The fee is $8.00 per member and $12.00 per non-member and includes general Museum admission.
The Museum celebrates this exhibition with an Afro-Cuban Jazz concert featuring Charles Fambrough and Friends on Saturday, November 22, 2008 from 8:00 to 11:00 p.m. An internationally acclaimed bassist, composer and educator, Charles Fambrough has performed and recorded with numerous bands, most famously Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers and the Wynton Marsalis Quintet, as well as Grover Washington Jr., McCoy Tyner, Freddie Hubbard, Airto Moreira, Shirley Scott and Rahsaan Roland Kirk. General admission seating is $34.00 per member and $40 per non-member. Reserved tables for 4 or 6 are $42 per member and $48 per non-member. All tickets include admission to the galleries (open from 8:00 to 10:00 p.m.) plus an hors d'oeuvre reception preceding the concert from 8:00 to 8:30 p.m. Hearty appetizers and desserts are presented by Havana Catering and refreshments are presented by River Horse Brewing Company and Sand Castle Winery.
Advance registration for these two special events is required. Both events take place in the Ann and Herman Silverman Pavilion at the Museum's Doylestown location. Please call (215) 340-9800 or visit www.michenerartmuseum.org for tickets.
Annual support for the Michener Art Museum is provided by The Pew Charitable Trusts, the Bucks County Commissioners and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Council on the Arts.