The College of Charleston’s Halsey Institute of Contemporary Art has received a $15,000 National Endowment for the Arts grant for a 2018 exhibition of Cuban artist Roberto Diago’s work, which focuses on racism and the traces of slavery in the Caribbean.
The exhibit is part of the special classes, performances, and events surrounding Cuba en el Horizonte
, the college’s semester-long interdisciplinary project. Diago’s status as a Cuban artist was a big draw, Mark Sloan, the director and chief curator of the Halsey Institute, says.
“He is among the most prominent contemporary artists in Cuba, and an emerging voice on the global stage,” Sloan says. “We have a long history of introducing artists like this to the Charleston community.”
The exhibit’s paintings and conceptual art installations, which will use raw materials sourced from objects in Diago’s neighborhood, highlight the connections between slavery in Charleston and Cuba. Using funds from the grant, Diago will take a brief residency in Charleston and create new works for the exhibition.
The grant also provides funds for a short documentary on Diago’s work, which will be shown continuously as part of the exhibit.
“My videographer and I will travel to Cuba in the fall and interview Diago in his studio there, get footage of his community in Havana, and him interacting with some of the young artists in Cuba,” Sloan says. “We will then combine that with footage of him creating his installation here in Charleston.”
This is the fifth NEA grant the Halsey Institute has received since 2012. As part of the second round of funding for fiscal year 2017, the NEA awarded 1,195 grants totaling over 82 million dollars to institutions across the United States.
Diago, who lives and works in Havana, graduated from the Academia de Artes Plásticas San Alejandro in 1990 and won the Cuba Ministry of Culture’s 2002 Award for National Culture. His art will be on view from January 19 to March 3, 2018.