Cuban Art, Food and Culture Subject of Art Show Reception

The vibrant, colorful Cuban art that is on display in the USAO Art Gallery will be moving out soon, but not without a closing reception featuring authentic Cuban food and a special lecture by award winning journalist, author, columnist and editor María de Lourdes Ruiz Scaperlanda.

The closing reception of "Cuba Oriente" is scheduled May 27 at 7 p.m. in the Davis Hall Amphitheater on the USAO campus. The art and food will follow the lecture by Scaperlanda.

"I was born in Pinar del Rio, Cuba, and grew up in the neighboring island of Puerto Rico, so I am truly a Caribbean "island girl." For the first 13 years of my life, Spanish was my first language," Scaperlanda said.

"I still have the "books" that I would put together as a young child, filling them up with my own poems and thoughts, essays and pictures -- quite often relating to what it felt to be a Cuban living in Puerto Rico or to some of the religious events that our family participated in."

Scaperlanda is published regularly in national publications. Her credits include "Our Sunday Visitor," "U. S. Catholic," "Catholic Digest," "St. Anthony Messenger," "The Lutheran," "Extension," and "Liguorian." For many years, she published an award-winning column for “Catholic Parent” and for “Catholic Digest en Español."

She is the author of five books: “Their Faith Has Touched Us: The Legacies of Three Young Oklahoma City Bombing Victims,” “Edith Stein: St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross,” “The Seeker’s Guide to Mary,” “The Journey: A Guide for the Modern Pilgrim,” and “The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Mary of Nazareth.”

She earned a master’s in English from the University of Oklahoma and a journalism degree from the University of Texas, Austin. She and her husband Michael have four children -- Christopher, Anamaría, Rebekah and Michelle. They live in Norman.

"We are at a historic moment in our relationship with Cuba. This exhibit is an excellent way for us to see Cuban life in the Oriente region through the eyes of the artist," said Layne Thrift, assistant director of the gallery.

"These artists developed their work before there was even talk of a new relationship between Cuba and the United States. The works we have on exhibit show their hopes and dreams as well as their suffering and despair."

The exhibition, which features several contemporary Cuban artists, is part of a larger exhibit held at the Goddard Center last year. "The Charles B. Goddard Center for the Visual and Performing Arts in Ardmore has graciously allowed the USAO Art Gallery to exhibit selections from a larger show held there last year," Thrift said.

"The backgrounds of the artist are varied -- some being self-taught, primitive painters, while others have formal, academic training. Interestingly, their careers range from a police officer to several college professors to a former museum director.

"Subjects of the exhibition encompass landscapes, abstract works, surrealistic themes and varied comments on life in Cuba," Thrift said.

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