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Cuba: The Individual and the Collective: The Role of the Artist in Society

8 nights/ 9 days on-site in Cuba (March 7 – 16, 2014) with scheduled pre- and post trip class meetings at MIAD scheduled on select Fridays during spring semester.

  • 3 Credits
  • FA396: Fine Arts Studio Travel Elective OR DS396: Design Studio Travel Elective
  • Pre-requisites: Instructor approval


In this era of globalization, few places offer the lure of Cuba: so close to the US, but because of US/Cuban relations, so difficult to reach for so long. (Travel to Cuba by US citizens is only legal with an education or a people-people license). The course will use the study of Cuban society, economy, and culture as a comparative frame to begin a dialog about our own role as cultural producers. Students will be challenged to learn how visual questions are asked, information distributed, and ideas formed in a communist country where demand for advertisements and visual information systems are very different than the US. (ex. What is the role of the “designer” in a society where there is “nothing” to sell?)

Students will be based in central Havana and have time to explore Havana, including the Malecón, old Havana, Vedado, and Miramar where many artists have studios and where the Cuban National Art School (ISA) is located. In addition to touring contemporary art museums and galleries, students will be invited into the studios of many diverse contemporary Cuban artists to meet them, see their work, and engage them one on one.
The week will include a trip to Cienfuegos, a city in central Cuba filled with neoclassical architecture built by the sugar and slave trades and 2 nights in Trinidad, a former Spanish colony with “hardly a trace of the 20th century anywhere.” We will enjoy the history, relaxed culture, music, and beaches of central Cuba mid-week before returning to Havana for a few more days. The trip also includes a day trip to Las Terrazas, an eco-community in the Sierra del Rosario mountain range just west of Havana in Pinar del Rio. The group will travel with a guide/translator most days; students will have part of most days and evenings/nights free to explore on their own.

These explorations will be the starting point for written and visual work that will result from careful considerations of social structures, the relationship of humans to nature, and the role of the individual within a society. Students will create a self-directed body of work, a video, and writing (website/blog) based on their work in the course. Students should enter into this knowing that the infrastructure of Cuba is decades behind what they’re accustomed to in the US: cell phones won’t work, internet is dial-up, there is a soviet-era organization to some things. The trip is a chance to travel not only to a different country, but in many ways, a different time.

This is a spring term course that will meet at MIAD 8-10 times during the term of the semester (pre and post travel) with approximately 9 days of escorted travel to Cuba over MIAD’s Spring Break. Prior to traveling, course time will be to introduce major ideas, technical skills (video, blogging), language basics, discuss readings, and engage in dialog. “First Person: Contemporary Cuban Art” show will be on exhibit at MIAD early in the spring semester and students in the class will use this as an introduction to contemporary Cuban art – both in Cuba and globally.

Lynn Tomaszewski, Professor and Chair of Foundations, earned her M.F.A. from the San Francisco Art Institute and has been a member of MIAD’s faculty since 1998. She is an interdisciplinary artist whose conceptually driven work explores how technology facilitates, alters, and influences perception and, subsequently, how perception constructs ideas. Her paintings, installations, coding, and video work often accumulate images into unified fields that function as visual field theory on human behavior. She has participated in residencies at the Vermont Studio Center and been an affiliate artist at the Headlands Center for the Arts. Tomaszewski’s work is in the public collections of the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota and the Center for Contemporary Art in Sacramento, California. Lynn has exhibited her work throughout the United States and Europe and was most recently selected for inclusion in the 2013 Wisconsin Triennial Exhibition. She has been a faculty member in MIAD’s Ireland program and has traveled throughout eastern Europe, Mexico, and most recently, to Cuba, in 2012.

Estimated Travel/ Course Fee for Fulltime MIAD Students: $3430
Includes hotel (double occupancy), airfare between Milwaukee and Havana, field trips and guided tours, Cuban Tourist Card and departure tax, plus all breakfasts, 5 lunches, 3 dinners. No additional tuition charges as long as spring semester credit load, including this course, does not exceed 18 credits.

Students are responsible for necessary passports, additional meals/ gratuities.

Application Deadline: October 21, 2013.
Interested MIAD students must apply for the program and complete an application packet (available outside of office 450B). Space is limited. Completed application forms must include a deposit of $600 payable to MIAD Cuba Program as well as a statement of interest. Application materials must be submitted to Jenny Krantz (450B).
After student is accepted into the program, the deposit is non-refundable.

Students must be in good academic standing with a minimum GPA of 2.5.

Minimum enrollment must be met for program to run. Deposits will be returned if program is canceled because of insufficient enrollment or if student is not accepted. (Because MIAD may be incurring costs upon students’ behalf, a portion of fees beyond the initial deposit may be non-refundable after a certain date.)

Financial Aid:
Interested students should inquire at the MIAD Financial Aid office ASAP to determine financing options.

Payment Schedule:
Payments on balance of course fee and tuition* will be due in the MIAD Business Office. Sample payment schedule based on estimated tuition/course fee noted:

October 21, 2013 – $600 Deposit (non-refundable after program acceptance)
December 15, 2013 – $600
January 24, 2014 – $2230 FINAL PAYMENT
Full payment is required before program begins.
Payments beyond initial deposit may also be non-refundable if expenses have already been paid on participant’s behalf.

Jenny Krantz, Dir, Creative Learning Opportunities – Office – 450B