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American Life Provides New Subjects for Cuban Artist Eduin Fraga

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Cuban artist Eduin Fraga has created his own unique style of artwork in the past years. By superimposing painted images over newspaper backgrounds, Fraga utilizes local resources and makes them into memorable art.  However, he experienced a change of scene in the last few months.  Moving from the warm, lively city of Havana, Cuba to chilly Green Bay, Wisconsin, may have given Fraga new subjects to paint, but he insists the inspiration for his art will remain the same.

“What inspires me now is the same that has always inspired me since I started with my art,” said Fraga.  “I don’t think that a change in country can determine my level of inspiration.”

The faces of Fraga’s art has undergone some changes though; panels of daily life in Cuba have changed to the Green Bay Packers’ game plays.

When I visited Cuba this past summer I was able to see Fraga’s artwork firsthand.  I loved the idea that he incorporated the newsprint into his canvases because it provided another layer to the art, both literally and symbolically.  A piece with a lot of people, for example, could have specific adjectives taken from the newspaper so that it could describe them in a different way.  Other pieces focus on specific parts of daily and cultural life, such as Cubans walking along the malecón (sea wall) or images of the guagua (bus).

While all these things were fascinating for me to see, a large part of that is because I wasn’t at all used to the Cuban way of life.  Maybe creating art based on American culture offers the same new outlet for Fraga.

The new subjects may be familiar to people from the U.S., but they are far from boring.  Fraga manages to keep the pieces new and innovative by incorporating newspapers from the U.S., as well as painting American figures. One piece features W.E.B. Du Bois painted over his own text.  Another, called “A Cuban in the Streets of New York,”  emphasizes how Fraga might have felt moving to a completely new country.  Most of the figures are dressed in more simple clothing, but one character has the busy pattern of newspaper words that has come to define Fraga’s work.

This piece more than anything defines the future of Fraga’s art for me.  While he comes from Cuba and has a very different history and background from that of the United States, I think the blend of the two cultures will only become more evident in his work as he continues to paint and create in Wisconsin.

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