Category Archives: Exhibitions

Artist María Martínez-Cañas Sheds Light on Her Photographic Path in Conversation at CHC

by Sarah Block, Library Communications

Artist María Martínez-Cañas

Artist María Martínez-Cañas.

You may have viewed the Quince Sellos Cubanos exhibition at Richter Library without realizing, at least at first, that you’re actually looking at photography. This is not an uncommon response to the style of artist María Martínez-Cañas, nor an unwelcomed one. In visiting the 15 iconic scenes depicting Cuba’s past, reimagined from the artist’s childhood stamp collection, you’re encouraged to take them apart as a way of understanding how they connect and the complex narrative that they together form.

“Photographs can be more than a way of recording the world. They can also be a tool for understanding who you are,” Martínez-Cañas explained during a November 19 event at the Cuban Heritage Collection, where she provided a closer look at how her unique style has helped her explore history, memory, and identity, among many other themes, during a conversation with professor J. Tomás López.

Martínez-Cañas is well known for pushing the boundaries beyond a traditional photograph, experimenting with a variety of materials and formats—analog and digital, color and black-and-white, camera-less and camera-base—in order to capture the image she intends. “It’s ideas,” she explained, “that drive my use of the medium, rather than the other way around.”

J. Thomás López, University of Miami Professor of Art and Art History.

J. Thomás López, University of Miami Professor of Art and Art History

López, a professor of art and art history who serves as head of Electronic Media and Photography at UM, navigated the discussion with topics spanning the course of Martínez-Cañas’ winding and prolific journey, from her early life and fascination with photography in Puerto Rico to the rise of her career and evolution of her work, which she carries out today in Miami.

“I had a curiosity of wanting to understand how the medium works from an early age, developing my first roll of film when I was eight years old. I asked my parents not to park the car in the garage because I wanted to use it as a dark room—and they didn’t!”

Her experimentation with photography in nontraditional forms began while studying at the prestigious Philadelphia College of Art, continuing at the Art Institute of Chicago, where she earned her MFA. She explained that when a Fulbright-Hays grant then brought her to Seville, Spain, she became interested in using the craft as a way to explore her Cuban identity.

“At the time I was trying to figure out what makes me Cuban. I was born in Cuba, but I never had the opportunity to grow up in the country in which I was born…I developed a project working with the maps that Christopher Columbus used to discover Cuba as a foundation for my photographic project. I thought if I used these maps, I will find my background and where I come from and I will connect more with what makes me Cuban. It changed my life.”

After moving to Miami, Martínez-Cañas embarked on the two-year project resulting in Quince Sellos Cubanos (1992). The first series of 15, comprising the 15 gelatin silver prints currently on display at the library, was donated to the Cuban Heritage Collection by Alan Gordich in 2015 along with the limited-edition portfolio Páginas de Viaje (1996).

Quinces Sellos Cubanos will remain on view through spring 2016.

Photos by Andrew Innerarity.



Now On View: Natural Cuba

Natural Cuba

An exhibition highlighting the island’s vibrant flora and fauna and their historical depictions, from iconic botanical illustrations to stunning wildlife publications to the beautifully colored specimens of the polymita picta, Cuba’s native tree snail. A series of historical photos, books, and other materials preserved by the Cuban Heritage Collection are now on display through Fall 2015 at the Roberto C. Goizueta Pavilion at the Otto G. Richter Library.

Now On View: Quince Sellos Cubanos

Quince Sellos Cubanos

An exhibition highlighting iconic scenes and symbols from Cuba’s past, reimagined by internationally renowned Cuban artist María Martínez-Cañas. A limited-edition portfolio of gelatin silver prints is on view alongside the artist’s thirty-year collection of original Cuban stamps which inspired the work. The portfolio was donated to the Cuban Heritage Collection in 2015 by Alan Gordich. It is on display on the second floor of the Otto G. Richter Library.

Now on View: Spare Beauty: The Cuban Kitchen

by Sarah Block, Library Communications

View Ellen Silverman's short film, "My Roots Lie Here," at

Click the image above to watch a video of the event on March 5. View Ellen Silverman’s short film, “My Roots Lie Here,” at

A photography exhibition now on view at the Otto G. Richter Library explores life in present-day Cuba as it is intimately reflected in the vibrant tones and textures of homes throughout the island. The wide-format photographic prints featured in Spare Beauty: The Cuban Kitchen serve as vivid windows into decades-old interior spaces, deeply rooted in routine, tradition, and even memories— glimpses of which are brought out through each scene in vivid detail. These immersive scenes are the work of food and travel photographer Ellen Silverman, well-known for her work in celebrated cookbooks, travel magazines, and other artistic mediums. Spare Beauty is one in a series of Silverman’s projects inspired by her travels to Cuba.


Ellen Silverman

“In my first of several trips to Cuba, I was welcomed into people’s kitchens, where I found sparse spaces where time has stopped,” the New York City-based photographer says in her artist statement. “Due to years of lack of money, supplies and equipment, people have been forced to adapt and improvise. While beautiful and visually stimulating to me, these kitchens are the very real circumstances of each person’s day to day life. This series of photographs reflects the personalities and the circumstances of those who inhabit them.”

Silverman visited the library in March for the opening of the exhibition and to present a short film she directed titled My Roots Lie Here, which can be viewed here. Click here to watch the presentation from the event.

This exhibition will run through July 31, 2015 as part of a library-wide exhibition series exploring culinary traditions and influences of South Florida and the Caribbean.

Photos by Andrew Innerarity.


This exhibition will run through July 31, 2015 as part of a library-wide exhibition series.

Now On View: An Entrée to Regional Fares and Flavors


Three exhibitions explore the rich culinary traditions of South Florida, Cuba, and the Caribbean as documented in library collections and outside works, from family recipes and photographs of kitchens to cookbooks, restaurant postcards, and iconic menus.

Tropical Gastronomies: Documenting the Food Cultures of South Florida

Surveying the complex food history of South Florida starting with the earliest uses of tropical crops, this exhibition highlights restaurants of the tourism boom, the emergence of Caribbean flavors, and the local impact of modern fresh-food trends. This exhibit is located on Richter Library’s first floor.

Food and Memory: An Exploration of Cuban Cooking, 1857-today

Featuring books, ephemera, and photographs from the Cuban Heritage Collection that illustrate the idea of a distinct Cuban cuisine and how this cuisine shaped the way Cuban culture developed. This exhibit is located on Richter Library’s second floor.

Spare Beauty: The Cuban Kitchen

Highlighting the work of food and travel photographer Ellen Silverman from her travels to Cuba, where she was welcomed into people’s kitchens and found “sparse spaces where time has stopped.” This exhibit is located on Richter Library’s second floor.

UM’s Cuban Heritage Collection Celebrates the Legacy of Maestro Manuel Ochoa

by Rosa Monzon, Cuban Heritage Collection

The exhibit includes a digital component through which viewers can watch videos of performances conducted by Maestro Ochoa.

The exhibition includes a digital component through which viewers can watch videos of Ochoa’s performances.

Maestro Manuel Ochoa, a Cuban exile musician, choral and orchestra conductor, and founder of the Miami Symphony Orchestra, was the focus of a reception at the Cuban Heritage Collection (CHC), at the University of Miami’s Otto G. Richter Library. The event served as the official launch of an exhibition that includes Ochoa’s greatest works and documented memories, which are preserved and available for research at the CHC in the Manuel Ochoa Papers.

Ochoa is recognized internationally not only for his numerous contributions to classical Cuban music in the island but also his work in Spain, Austria, and the United States.

Curated by Meiyolet Mendez, librarian at the CHC, the exhibition displays photographs, letters, publications, music scores, and concert programs of Ochoa’s personal life and career. Included is a photograph from the beginning of Ochoa’s career, at the age of 17, conducting members of the Holguin Choral Society, which he created in 1942, even before he had any formal training. Another photograph shows Ochoa leading the Belen Jesuit Choir in Havana years later. Ochoa’s lesson plans and notes on working with child choir singers also are on display.

“One of the most exciting parts of working on this exhibit was the opportunity to bring to life Maestro Ochoa’s entire career,” said Mendez. “I discovered a person who was passionate about music and music education, and who loved sharing that passion with others.”

Also on display is a paper program of the Concierto Sacro, sponsored by the Cuban Catholic Artists Guild, featuring Ochoa’s Coro de Madrigalistas (Madrigal Choir), popularly noted as the best choir in Cuba, in 1956, Havana.

A driving force and inspiration in Ochoa’s life was always his family. One of the highlights of the exhibition is a photograph of his mother, Caridad Ochoa, who was a trained opera singer, plus a tear sheet from The Miami Herald with an article by David Lawrence Jr. celebrating Ochoa as well as his wife and biggest supporter, Sofia Ochoa.

“She was at his side every step of the way,” said their son, Manuel Ochoa Jr. “My father always said she made it easy for him to just stand at a podium and conduct.”

CHC recognized Sofia Ochoa (right) during the event.

Esperanza Bravo de Varona (left), former chair of the CHC, and current chair Maria Estorino recognized Sofia Ochoa (right) during the event.

Sofia’s unwavering support for her husband continued after his death, in 2006. She not only donated his collection but also contributed countless hours as a volunteer in the processing of these records.

“When my mother and I thought about how we would remember and commemorate my father, we wanted a living memorial,” said Ochoa Jr. “We wanted to share his life story so that others, especially young Cubans and Cuban-Americans would be inspired to continue his musical legacy.”

After studying and working in Cuba, Vienna, Spain, and Rome, Ochoa settled in Miami following the Cuban Revolution. On display are photographs of Ochoa’s performances in Miami, such as the first Festiva Symphony Concert at the Colonel Hotel in 1989. There is also a photograph of acclaimed Cuban pianist Zenaida Manfugás, from the same concert.

In Miami Ochoa also created the Society of Arts and Culture of Americas, but his greatest contribution to the city’s cultural development was the creation and leadership of the Miami Symphony Orchestra for more than 25 years. Multiple playbills from its concerts are displayed in the CHC’s Roberto C. Goizueta Pavilion, as well as audio and videos of performances.

Guests at the reption.

The celebration of Ochoa’s life and legacy took place at CHC’s Roberto C. Goizueta Pavilion, where the Manuel Ochoa Papers are now permanently housed and available for research.

Considered “the highlight of his tenure with the orchestra,” said Ochoa Jr., was a concert in Carnegie Hall in June of 2000, also represented in the exhibition.

“Maestro Ochoa’s legacy lives on in the Miami Symphony Orchestra he founded and in the lives that he touched through his various cultural activities,” said Maria Estorino, chair of the CHC. “But it also lives on here, in the library, where through his own papers, his life, his work, and his passion can be discovered.”

The CHC is home to thousands of books, manuscripts, photographs, and other materials that document the rich history and culture of Cuba and its diaspora. The legacy of Maestro Manuel Ochoa, as well as countless other Cubans and Cuban-Americans, “will not only be preserved here, but it will be shared with our students and with the community,” said Estorino.

“I hope the Maestro Manuel Ochoa Collection continues to inspire and educate future generations to become musicians and conductors, and keep alive the rich tradition of classical music,” Ochoa Jr. said.

The exhibition is available for viewing through the end of summer. For more information about the Cuban Heritage Collection and its events, please visit

View more photos from the event here.

Photos by Andrew Innerarity.

The exhibit will be available at the Roberto C. Goizueta Pavilion through summer 2015.

The exhibition is on view at the Roberto C. Goizueta Pavilion through the end of the summer.

Share Your Story: A Call for South Florida Veterans and Military Families

storycorps-blog_logoThe search for South Florida soldiers and their family members is actively underway by StoryCorps, Warmamas, and the University of Miami Libraries (UML). The three organizations are collaborating on StoryCorps’ Military Voices Initiative, a project that honors veterans and the military community by recording and preserving their stories. Approximately eighteen interviews will begin at 9 a.m. on March 11, 12, and 13 at the Otto G. Richter Library on UM’s Coral Gables campus.

StoryCorps interviews are conducted as a conversation between two people, while a trained StoryCorps facilitator guides the 40-minute recording session. With the participants’ permission, the recordings of these interviews will be archived at the Library of Congress and segments of select interviews may also air nationally on NPR’s Morning Edition. “We are a people defined by small acts of courage, kindness and heroism,” says StoryCorps founder David Isay. The Military Voices Initiative builds on this notion and contributes to StoryCorps’ diverse collection by recording and preserving the stories of veterans and military families. It is an opportunity for them to share their experiences in their own words.

The archive of recorded oral histories will be preserved at UML’s Special Collections, located at the Otto G. Richter Library. Open to the public, Special Collections houses a vast repository for researchers on a wide range of topics, with a particular emphasis on South Florida and the Caribbean. “As a community archive, Special Collections actively documents history by collecting materials, from photographs to personal letters to video recordings, that will remain here permanently and ultimately serve to inform, enlighten, and even inspire future generations,” says Chuck Eckman, Dean of University of Miami Libraries.

StoryCorps previously partnered with UML on Historias, an initiative to record the diverse stories and life experiences of Latinos in the United States. UML’s Cuban Heritage Collection served as a community partner for Historias interviews conducted locally in 2009. Additional UML oral history projects include the Haitian Diaspora Oral History Collections at Special Collections and multiple oral history projects focusing on Cuban diaspora and Cuban American communities at the Cuban Heritage Collection. Access to oral history collections is available from UML’s website.

Veterans and military families interested in this opportunity to tell their story should call Patricia Sowers at 786-493-0892, 305-461-5193, or email

Members of the press may interview selected participants as well as StoryCorps, UML, and Warmamas staff at 9 a.m. on March 13. Press must contact Barbara Gutierrez at to RSVP.

Now on Display: Ochoa: Remembering the Life and Legacy of Maestro Manuel Ochoa


We invite you to visit the exhibition currently on display in the Roberto C. Goizueta Pavilion on the second floor of the University of Miami’s Otto G. Richter Library.

Drawing from his personal papers, this exhibition commemorates the life and work of Cuban-born conductor and orchestra director Manuel Ochoa (1925-2006), whose passion for music led him from Cuba to Austria and Spain and back. In exile, he worked with other Cuban artists to bring to life the traditional music of Cuba and Spain, most notably through the Miami Symphony Orchestra, which he founded and led for almost two decades.

Stay tuned in the coming months for activities related to our spring exhibit. Follow CHC to keep in touch.