Pink Powder: Commemorating Breast Cancer Awareness Month

Pink Powder, an exhibit of renowned works from the de la Cruz Collection, is now on display at the Richter Library.

On the eve of Breast Cancer Awareness Month coming up in October, Dr. Felicia Marie Knaul, director of the University of Miami Institute for the Americas, has a message for the many women around the world who have been confronted with the devastating disease.

A breast cancer survivor, Knaul spoke alongside her husband, UM President Julio Frenk, on Tuesday evening about stigmas that surround cancer, specifically in treatment, and the need to empower those who are facing it, at the opening of Pink Powder, an exhibition on view at the Otto G. Richter Library.

“The beauty of women is not specific to our exterior,” Knaul said during a reception held in the Roberto C. Goizueta Pavilion, her words echoing a unifying message in a series of works owned by the de la Cruz Collection and brought to UM through a collaboration of the Libraries and Miami Institute for the Americas with contributions by the Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center, Lowe Art Museum in the College of Arts and Sciences, and the Frost School of Music.

Knaul was inspired to initiate the installment in part from her own experience in battling breast cancer, which she was diagnosed with in 2007.

“One of the biggest obstacles in being able to detect and treat women’s cancers, particularly breast cancer, is this tremendous fear of what it will do to our bodies. We are afraid of abandonment. We are afraid of disfigurement,” she said at the event.

The exhibition includes works in various forms related to the female body and identity, from the “earth-body” work of Cuban-American pioneer performance artist Ana Mendieta to the drawings of female bodies as plants by Miami native Naomi Fisher, and from the confessional work of British artist Tracy Emin to the autobiographical video of Berlin-based artist Susanne Winterling.

Pink Powder is a group of artists that are trying to address the woman’s body, through a woman’s form,” said Rosa de la Cruz, co-founder of the de la Cruz Collection. “And here you have artists from Ana Mendieta, the performing artist, to the work of Tracy Emin, which is totally autobiographical, and you see how these women are encouraging us to have a conversation on the healing power of the visual arts.”

President Julio Frenk said the exhibition reflects an aspect of work at the University and within the University of Miami Institute for the Americas related to the diagnosis and treatment of breast cancer. “Breast cancer affects people of all socioeconomic groups and all countries of the world. There’s the emotional connection to the system, that is actually life threatening if it is not treated correctly,” Frenk said. “The arts are a vehicle to derive meaning from the human experience. And that’s why this exhibit is so powerful.”

On view in the library through the month of October, the exhibition is an initiative of the University’s Galleries, Libraries, and Museums (GLAM) sector, which supports collaboration between libraries and museums as rich repositories of ideas, objects, and insights into how we think, who we are, and the stories we tell. “We are proud to host this powerful series of works by female artists,” said Chuck Eckman, dean of the University of Miami Libraries.

The event closed with a performance on keyboard by Justina Shandler, a graduate student and songwriter in the Frost School, inspired by a family friend’s battle with cancer. From Shandler’s Easy to Be Afraid:

Pick up your head, pick up your pencil
Get out of bed, get in the light 
Pick up some bread and you can break it with a friend 
Pick up your friend and hold her tight
Pick up all the stardust you can find in your life

2016 New Directions in Cuban Studies Conference


Registration is now open for the 2016 New Directions in Cuban Studies conference presented by the Cuban Heritage Collection at the University of Miami Donna E. Shalala Student Center, October 20-21, 2016. This multidisciplinary conference is held biennially to disseminate the work of graduate students and emerging scholars and survey the current status of Cuban and Cuban American Studies.

Please contact Mei Méndez, Interim Esperanza Bravo de Varona Chair of the Cuban Heritage Collection, at or 305-284-4900.

Conference History
The inaugural conference was held in 2014 and included the participation of 13 former CHC fellows. The event’s keynote speaker was Louis A. Pérez, Jr. Panel discussants included Ada Ferrer, New York University, José Quiroga, Emory University, Lisandro Pérez, John Jay College of Criminal Justice, and María de los Angeles Torres, University of Illinois, Chicago.

The 2014 New Directions in Cuban Studies conference was made possible in part through funding from The Goizueta Foundation and the Amigos of the Cuban Heritage Collection.

DVD Picks: Banned Books Week

by Terri Robar, Learning & Research Services

This week, from September 25 to October 1, the UM Libraries have been celebrating Banned Books Week. It is a celebration of the triumph of our freedom of expression. The movies on this list are all based on books that we are featuring in our displays in the Richter Library. The captions for each movie include the information on when and where the book was banned or challenged.

The following films are a part of Richter Library’s DVD collection. In addition to the thousands of DVDs spanning comedy, drama, sci-fi, horror, documentary, and other genres, UM Libraries also houses film-related materials such as screenplays, soundtracks, musical scores, and original book titles. Search the catalog to browse music and print resources related to these films.

The book was burned in Alamagordo, New Mexico, in 2001 for being “satanic.” In ancient times the Rings of Power were crafted by the Elven-smiths, and Sauron, the Dark Lord, forged the One Ring, filling it with his own power so that he could rule all others. But the One Ring was taken from him and, though he sought it throughout Middle-earth, still it remained lost to him. After many ages, it fell, by chance, into the hands of the Hobbit, Bilbo Baggins.

The book was banned in public schools in Chicago, Illinois, in 2013. In 1970s Iran, Marjane “Marji” Satrapi watches events through her young eyes and her idealistic family. Their long-held dream is realized when the hated Shah is defeated in the Iranian Revolution of 1979. Now ruled by Islamic fundamentalists, Marji grows up to witness first-hand how the new Iran has become a repressive tyranny on its own.

The book was challenged in middle schools in Goffstown, New Hampshire, in 2011. In the post-apocalyptic nation of Panem, Katniss Everdeen volunteers to take her sister’s place in the televised event in which one boy and one girl from each of the twelve districts are chosen to fight to the death until one victor remains.

The book was banned in high school classrooms in Raceland, Louisiana, in 2008. With exacting detail, the film re-creates the American siege of the Somalian city of Mogadishu in October 1993, when a 45-minute mission turned into a 16-hour ordeal of bloody urban warfare.

The book was challenged in schools in Morganton, North Carolina, in 2008. An uneducated woman living in the rural American south who was raped by her father, deprived of the children she bore him, and forced to marry a brutal man she calls “Mister,” is transformed by the friendship of two remarkable women, acquiring self-worth and the strength to forgive.

The book was challenged in middle schools in Brentwood, Tennessee, in 2006. The setting is a dusty Southern town during the Depression. A white woman accuses a black man of rape. Though he is obviously innocent, the outcome of his trial is such a foregone conclusion that no lawyer will step forward to defend him–except the town’s most distinguished citizen.

The book series holds the record for being the most frequently challenged title in the U.S. for the decade of 2000-2009. Rescued from the outrageous neglect of his aunt and uncle, a young boy with a great destiny proves his worth while attending Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.

The book was banned in high schools in Nampa, Idaho, in 2012. After Tita is forced to make the cake for the wedding of the man she loves and her own sister, the guests are overcome with sadness. Tita has discovered she can do strange things with her cooking.

The book was challenged in public schools in Olathe, Kansas, in 2007. In the Great Depression, George and Lennie, two displaced migrant ranch workers, dream of the autonomy of owning and operating their own ranch someday.

The book was challenged in high schools in Orono, Maine, in 2006. The fascinating true story of a young woman’s life-altering stay at a famous psychiatric hospital in the late 1960s.

The book was banned in high schools in Coventry, Rhode Island, in 2000. Billy Pilgrim has become unstuck in time. An otherwise typical soldier in WWII, without warning, he jumps back and forth in his life with no control over where he is going next.

The book was challenged in public schools in Lubbock, Texas, in 2008. In a parallel world where witches soar the skies and Ice Bears rule the frozen North, one special girl is destined to hold the fate of the universe in her hands.

New Exhibit Explores Gender and Social Justice in Vintage Board Games

By Yvette Yurubi, Reference Assistant, Special Collections

Long before video games came along, board games dominated as a common pastime for adults and kids. With their 2-D platforms, simple narratives, and easy, straightforward objectives, they were a hit among friends, during parties and family gatherings. So what can we learn today from this historic national pastime?


What Shall I Be? The Exciting Game of Career Girls (1966), players vie to be first in becoming a “career girl.”

After Special Collections recently acquired a series of vintage board games, UGrow Fellow Ellen Davies created a display highlighting what games can tell us about social issues and attitudes in mainstream culture. Without the many bells and whistles virtually transporting players to worlds beyond, these games used more simple tactics to entertain, meanwhile reflecting the ideals of the time. In games from the 1960s and 1970s, we are transported to a time when even the concept of equality, regardless of gender or race, was still making its way into many parts of society.

What Shall I Be? The Exciting Game of Career Girls, for instance, is a game where players must roll the dice, move around the board, and collect career, personality, and subject cards in order to obtain their “dream job.” The game only offers to women six very limiting jobs to choose from: model, airline hostess, ballet dancer, actress, teacher, and nurse. Notably absent are many STEM-based jobs aside from nursing, jobs in the military, and hard-labor jobs, and the game comes equipped with set-backs where a modeling career is out of a player’s reach due to them being overweight or being unattractive. It presents a singular view in which women are highly valued for their looks and behavior rather than their education, intellect, and abilities.


Male career options highlighted in What Shall I Be? The Exciting Career Game for Boys.

It’s notable that the boy’s version of the game does also offer careers that would be considered traditional for men alongside an array of educational possibilities: law school – statesman; graduate school – scientist; college – athlete; medical school – doctor; technical school – engineer; and flight school – astronaut. However, the absence of careers like steward, model, or dancer also shows a limited perception where men aren’t granted much freedom to pursue anything that doesn’t fall within long-stemming societal views of masculinity.

While these games might be taken at face value, it’s also possible that the creators wanted to use them to make social commentary by highlighting the blatant lack of equality. Woman & Man: The Classic Confrontation furthers this idea by encouraging players to take on the role of the opposite gender and experience “life” through their lenses. The goal of the game is to gather 100 status quo points, though those who choose to play as women can only start with a range of 5-40 points and a position as an assistant while those who play as men, start the game with 36-60 points and a managerial position. The lack of gender equality is exhibited from the onset, illustrating the harder struggle women have had to endure to even stand on an even playing field with men.


Woman & Man: The Classic Confrontation (1970s) encourages players to experience life through the lens of the opposite sex.

In the wake of growing awareness of social issues and the expanding and rapidly evolving concepts of gender and sexuality, these games seem laughably outdated and politically incorrect. However, aside from their novelty, they do provide an opportunity to open up a dialogue about how casual sexism and restricted gender roles once dominated the social consciousness of the past and how they continue to be an issue today that everyone is struggling to transform and reinvent so that future generations do not have to be so confined in what role they feel they should have to fulfill in order to be accepted into society. We eagerly invite you all to venture to the 8th floor and join us with your friends to share in the experience of these vintage games which are now on exhibit.