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Cuba for Keeps: Photography by Milly West; video by Ignacio Barrios & Reynier Leyva Novo

Milly West - Mendive performance

Milly West - Young Woman Mantanzas Milly West - Last Swim with Hemingway Milly West - Christinas Exhibition Milly West - Alicias Hallway

Cuba for Keeps 
photographs by Milly West
+ video by Ignacio Barrios and Reynier Leyva Novo   
December 6-December 28, 2013 
open for First Friday, December 6th, 6-9pm + a special preview and booksigning with West at 5pm

Krowswork is very pleased to present Cuba for Keeps, a collection of photographs from Cuba by Milly West. West writes of the passion that Cuba ignites in her work: "How could one person's story ever convey the empathy, love, and infatuation I feel toward Cuba?" Yet this collection goes far in exploring one woman's ongoing, subtle, and loving relationship with this often misunderstood, or too easily pigeonholed place, and its people. Specifically she explores the relationships she has made with fellow artists.

This opening also marks the release of West's photography publication Cuba For Keeps: A Journey of Love Through Art. This book is the first imprint of Krowsworkbooks, the new publishing branch of Krowswork. West's book will also be available for purchase at the exhibition. 

West, who is best known for her photographs of the Mississippi Delta, has been traveling to Cuba since 1996, where she initially traveled on the first art tour organized by the Center for Cuban Studies in New York. Sandra Levinson, director of that organization, writes in her foreword for the book that: "You will see that sense of family in her photographs. Her camera treats the people and places of Cuba with the same affection Milly feels for them. It's as though her camera lens is directly attached to her heart. These photographs are not made by a foreigner in a strange land, but by a sister coming home to visit her family."

West's photography will be complemented by video work by two emerging video artists. Ignacio Barrios, who is from Spain but has worked extensively in Cuba and Miami, presents the video 44.53m. Shot from the window of an airplane during the 90-mile flight from Havana to Miami, the video documents the actual duration of the flight. As West notes in her book: "The physical distance between Cuba and the United States is so near, but the way there and back is anything but easy."  

Reynier Leyva Novo titled The Invisible Patriot will be also be on view. In this disarmingly simple work, we watch and listen to the playing on classical guitar of  "La Bayamesa"--Cuba's national anthem. The guitarist remains invisible throughout the rendition, with only his (or her) fingers shown moving gracefully over the fretboard and sound hole of the guitar. The anthem was one of the only official things held over from the previous government after the Revolution of 1959, and its origin is The Battle of Bayamo of 1868, in which the Cubans defeated (temporarily) their Spanish colonizers.  

About the artists: Milly West (born 1949) is an internationally recognized photographer whose works are in the public collections of The Corcoran Gallery, Washington, D.C.; The Ogden Museum of Southern Art, New Orleans; The Mississippi Museum of Art, Jackson; The Meridian Museum of Art, Mississippi; The Brooks Gallery, Memphis; The Center for Southern Studies at the University of Mississippi; as well as many private collections. She is a past recipient of the Mississippi Institute of Arts and Letters Award in Photography and former owner and founder of Southside Gallery in Oxford. After many years as an artistic photographer, West earned an MFA in photography at the University of Tulsa, where she received the prestigious Gussman Award in Art and published numerous short stories and poems. Since 1996, West has traveled to Cuba frequently, and her photos from those travels have been featured in a number of galleries and publications. West lives and works in Oxford, Mississippi. Ignacio Barrios (b. 1989) is a photographer and video artist based in Madrid, and recently he was selected to be part of the prestigious Édition de Arte 40 in that city. He also works often documenting the fashion and music scene, and his photographs and videos are part of numerous private collections including the Cisneros Fontanals Art Foundation (CIFO), Miami. Reynier Leyva Novo (b. 1983) is a celebrated Cuban video maker and artist and has had numerous solo and group exhibitions throughout the country. Internationally his work was most recently presented as part of the 54th Venice Biennial, as well as part of the "Cuban Visions" exhibition at the Metropolitan Pavilion, in New York in 2011.

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