Citizens of the World: Cuba in Queens

Citizens of the World: Cuba in Queens explores how Cuban visual artists, living both on island and in diaspora, grapple with the profound complexities between identity and place. Simultaneously a collective sentiment and a uniquely individual notion, lo cubano extends beyond geographic and existential boundaries. Exploring personal motivations and experiences, this exhibition presents varied expressions of spirituality, humor, isolation, and discovery surrounding the immigrant experience and the intangible connections between where one lives and one’s sense of self.

As the theme suggests, the tone and perspective of the work is widely diverse. While some artists convey a sense of celebration, others focus on the disconnect between the promises of the revolution and the realities of contemporary life. Domestic spaces, grand and decimated, imaginary and real, are prominent. Intertwined cultural icons from the island and adopted homelands emblemize the complexity of the immigrant experience. Historical archetypes are reinterpreted, prompting viewers to question preconceived notions of Cuba. Works focused on the individual provide insight to the intangible connections between a home and sense of self.

Whether it is driven by the desire to find the comforts of a home, a necessity to relocate, or by an effort to clear the hurdles of immigration and assimilation, the search to find a place with a sense of connection is universal. Though explored here in the context of contemporary Cuban art, Citizens of the World: Cuba in Queens aims to resonate with, and pay homage to, the vast range of experiences within the Queens community.

The exhibition will feature a range of paintings, drawings, sculptures, videos, and installations from the Shelley and Donald Rubin Private Collection including work by: Alejandro Aguilera, Analía Amaya, Alexandre Arrechea, Abel Barroso, María Magdalena Campos-Pons, Carlos Rodríguez Cárdenas, Javier Castro, Ángel Delgado, Roberto Diago, Guillermo Estrada-Viera, Luis Gárciga, Liudmila + Nelson, Armando Mariño, Frank Martínez, Clara Morera, Bernardo Navarro Tomas, Douglas Pérez Castro, Elio Rodríguez, Lázaro Saavedra, Esterio Segura, Yoxi Velázquez, and Jorge Wellesley.

To coincide with the opening, artists Maria Magdalena Campos-Pons and Neil Leonard will perform Rosa de los Vientos. Winds Rose. Winding through the museum galleries, the procession is conceived as ritualistic cleansing of the space. The performance aims to invoke charged energy and a healthy future for the institution and the public it serves, to champion cultural understanding, and to foster cosmopolitan dialogue as a bridge for better interactions among people.

This inaugural exhibition celebrates the opening of The Shelley and Donald Rubin Gallery and launches a series of collaborations between the Rubins and the Queens Museum. Together they are committed to growing the audience for art by fostering community involvement. Their collaboration aims to reflect and honor the diversity of Queens, promoting engagement and encouraging cross-cultural dialogue.

Download the exhibition brochure here