All across Cuba, change is in the air. Whether it be the change that accompanies Fidel Castro handing control of the government over to Raul (after nearly 50 years in power), the appearance of small privately run businesses and entrepreneurship, increased tourism from around the world in places like Varadero, or foreign investment, there exists a perfect window of opportunity to experience Cuba as it transitions from a history in isolation from Americans to a future that welcomes them as never before.
A lesser known, yet extremely visible form of change is happening on city streets all over Cuba too. Within the last decade, street art (aka graffiti) has transformed entire neighborhoods into bursting murals of cultural, societal and political expression. By incorporating patriotic motifs, much of the art is state-sanctioned and therefore considered a valid form of artistic expression. Also highly intriguing is the appearance of graffiti from independent artists whose work often vanishes as quickly as it appears due to its critical or nonconforming subject material. While travelers to Cuba usually seek to witness Colonial history and architectural heritage, plan on taking some time to appreciate the many faces of an uncertain future as it depicted on the walls of neighborhoods by these talented artists. Chances are you’ll be lucky enough to witness something that will never be seen again.
Hopefully everyone has enjoyed looking at these images and pondering their meaning as much as I have. For more, check out Robin Thom's gallery on Cuban street art and check back with me as I cover more of Cuba's art scene in the future.