Feature: Cuban artists promote food production amid pandemic

Source: Xinhua| 2020-12-20 11:13:21|Editor: huaxia

by Yosley Carrero

HAVANA, Dec. 19 (Xinhua) -- Samuel Riera, a visual artist from Havana's Cerro district, uses plants, wood, and glass containers to create green living structures in an attempt to raise the awareness of the importance of sustainable food production worldwide.

The 42-year-old, who works as a professor at Cuba's National Academy of Fine Arts San Alejandro, has turned his house into Riera Studio, an art gallery to put on shows in the living room and domestic spaces next to the kitchen.

Over the past few weeks, he has been working on Evolving Nature, a collection of art installations and paintings that trace the relation between environment and art in the context of the sanitary emergency.

The artist said he believes that "more environmentally friendly spaces will be at the disposal of people in a post-pandemic era."

"This is ephemeral art. We use plants as a metaphor of life on Earth to send a clear message about challenges affecting the world as a whole," he said.

To conceive his paintings and art installations, the artist creates natural pigments from seeds, leaves, and trees in the surroundings in keeping with organic painting principles.

He puts lentils, rice, and lettuce seeds in large containers until little green shoots sprout up, and also collects different types of wildflowers to generate unique colors and textures.

"We want to paint the town green. Nature is life," he added.

Riera has done this work with the helping hand of Derbis Campos, a 39-year-old visual artist, who graduated in biochemistry from the University of Havana in 2005.

"In the future, we want to explore the relationship between technology and nature as well as to use soil pigments to create our artwork," he said, adding "we support sustainable development."

Riera Studio joined Picturing Climate, a global movement aiming to develop local and international educational capacity on climate change and food security through arts and scientific research.

As thousands of people across the country are part of Cuba's organic agriculture movement, the artists are promoting the creation of hydroponics to develop gardening in rooftops, balconies, or terraces in the absence of soil-based nutrients.

Besides, the art gallery holds workshops where participants can build small-scale greenhouses using elements from automation and open-access programming.

Riera and Campos are also involved in a community project to teach students from a nearby school about environmental protection and climate change.

Cuban art critic Yenisel Osuna said what people see at Riera Studio are not ordinary nursery crops, referring to specific conditions concerning sunlight, humidity, and the irrigation system.

"Once little sprouts grow and achieve the expected beauty and quality, one starts thinking about eating them," she said. "At the end of the day, it is also about food." Enditem