Perico Museum

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Adela de las Mercedes Corbea Pita stops in front of Susan's Illuminated Manuscripts that tell Adela's story, Susan Matthews Photography

For me, our exhibit at the Perico Municipal Museum (Museo Municipal Constantino Barredo Guerra) was the culmination of Secrets Under the Skin.  We invited all of the people we had interviewed, as well as other friends and passers by.  I was a little nervous when I saw Reinaldo Robinson looking at the portrait I had painted of him, and reading his own words set in calligraphy, and when I saw Adela reading her account of spirit possession with Oyá. But they were appreciative and happy with the outcome.  Even the curator at the museum said she hadn't known about Arará in Perico.  Robinson, who was in his eighties, said he saw people at the opening who never get together in one place.

I was asked to say a few words at the opening, and I thought I should address the question, "Why did we do this?" I explained, "We did it because we are artists, and artists need subject matter.  We felt it was important and beautiful, and should be preserved, and it was exciting to us because we don't have this kind of tradition."

Their positive reaction meant everything to me. They had wanted their history to be commemorated and acknowledged by the outside world, and that is how they saw our work in the end.  I am sure that at times when people wondered what we were up to.  And I asked myself over and over, "Why me?"  I thought maybe someone else could do a better job.  But the answer came back:  If we hadn't done it, it would not have been done.  Some of the most important elders are already gone. 

Susan Matthews, March 25, 2011.

Listening to Melba Núñez Isalbe reading elder stories, Susan Matthews Photography

Roberto introducing the show, Melba Núñez Isalbe Photography

During the opening of Secrets Under the Skin at the Museo Constantino Barredo Guerra in Perico, Cuba December 25, 2010, Museum director Rosario Pino Dominguez spoke about the importance of the project to her community.