Cleveland meets Havana: Cleveland Foundation to welcome Cuban artists this spring for Creative Fusion:
Cuba Edition

Cohort of Cuban and Cleveland artists will participate in historic arts and community engagement projects through the foundation’s international artist residency program. 

release date: 1.5.2017

CLEVELAND – The Cleveland Foundation’s Creative Fusion international artist residency program will bring a group of Cuban artists to Cleveland this spring for a cultural exchange with local artists and the Greater Cleveland community. The multidisciplinary cohort includes internationally celebrated artists showcasing the best in architecture, design, printmaking, photography/mixed media, the written word, ballet and modern dance.

DANCECleveland will host internationally renowned Cuban modern dance troupe Malpaso in May and June 2017.

DANCECleveland will host internationally renowned Cuban modern dance troupe Malpaso in May and June 2017.

Launched in 2008 by the Cleveland Foundation, Creative Fusion is a twice-yearly international artist residency program that has brought more than 70 artists from around the world to Cleveland. Over the past year, the program has strengthened collaboration between local Cleveland artists and the visiting artists-in-residence by focusing each Creative Fusion cohort along a single theme. The spring 2017 residency, Creative Fusion: Cuba Edition, is likely the first-of-its-kind exchange connecting cultural institutions of a major Midwestern city with a selection of celebrated Cuban artists for an extended project-based residency.  

“We have an unprecedented opportunity to build innovative partnerships between Cuba and Cleveland, centered on transformative art and artists in both communities,” said Ronn Richard, president and CEO of the Cleveland Foundation. “The arts scene here in Cleveland has often been our calling card to the world. With Creative Fusion, we are able to bring the world to Cleveland to enrich our creative landscape while deepening our community’s appreciation for the local artists who define and design this cultural movement every day in Greater Cleveland.” 

Seven local arts organizations will host Cuban artists, who will participate in a variety of projects:

  • The Cleveland Institute of Art plans to host a Cuban jewelry and metals artist, who will be selected during a trip to Cuba in January. The artist, in partnership with Matthew Hollern, professor of Jewelry + Metals, will likely explore the subject of innovation and hybridity through the lens of design thinking/design theory: innovation from scarcity compared with innovation through materials and technology. The selected artist will teach numerous classes at the college, give demonstrations and participate in at least one free public lecture during the residency in Cleveland. The college will also partner with the Cleveland Urban Design Collaborative (CUDC) and its resident Cuban architects to repurpose a Glenville building as an integrated arts space. While CUDC students focus on the exterior of the building, Cleveland Institute of Art students, led by Interior Architecture department Chair Michael Gollini, will create design proposals for the building’s interior space. In the fall of 2017, Cleveland Institute of Art will mount an exhibition of Cuban artists in Reinberger Gallery, including work created during this residency.
  • The Cleveland Print Room (CPR) and the Cleveland Museum of Art (CMA) will host award-winning Cuban artist Sandra Ramos, whose work has been shown in solo exhibitions and residencies around the world. While in Cleveland, Ramos will program artwork on digital billboards throughout the city, including the digital Mediamesh® on the exterior of the Cleveland Institute of Art. Ramos will also visit a Cleveland Metropolitan School District program and assist CPR’s instructional team in a self-portrait workshop, where she will discuss her native culture of Cuba. CPR will mount an exhibition of Ramos’ work at its gallery with a tentative date of May 2017, and will partner with CMA to feature an artist talk and a community talk during her stay. CPR and CMA will also host local photographer Greg Martin, who will produce wet plate photography during a trip to Cuba in January. Given the difficulty sourcing and transporting the necessary materials, this will likely be the first time in decades that the wet plate collodion process has been used in Cuba. Upon his return to Cleveland, Martin will exhibit his work from Cuba and take the wet plate collodion process to the streets, photographing portraits of residents at Public Square and the West Side Market.
  • The Cleveland Urban Design Collaborative (CUDC) will continue a partnership launched by Kent State University last year with Havana-based architects Sofía Márquez Aguiar and Ernesto Jiménez of Fábrica De Arte Cubano (Cuban Art Factory), a vibrant community arts space housed in a repurposed cooking oil plant in Havana. The architects will work with a 2017 CUDC Urban Design and Landscape Architecture graduate studio and a Cleveland Institute of Art Interior Design studio on design proposals for two neighborhood projects: one in Havana’s Vedado neighborhood, where Fábrica De Arte Cubano is located, and another in Cleveland’s Glenville neighborhood. In April, Márquez Aguiar and Jiménez will travel to Cleveland to review the students’ design proposals for Vedado and will remain in Cleveland for two months as they work with students to generate and fabricate the project to be built in Glenville.
  • Collective Arts Network (CAN) Journal will host accomplished culture writer, poet and editor of Ediciones Vigía Laura Ruiz Montes of Matanzas, Cuba, who will learn and write about the community of Latin American artists in Cleveland. Ruiz-Montes’ work will be published in both English and Spanish, and will appear in the print edition of CAN Journal, as well as the journal’s website and CAN blog. Ruiz-Montes will partner with Case Western Reserve University (CWRU) professor of modern languages Damaris Punales-Alpizar, who will assist with translation of the writing and serve as an ambassador to the Cleveland community with support from Cuban-born painter Augusto Bordelois. Ruiz-Montes will interact with area artists, students and residents through partnerships with Case Western Reserve University, The Morgan Conservatory, Zygote Press and others.
  • DANCECleveland will host internationally renowned Cuban modern dance troupe Malpaso in May and June 2017. Praising Malpaso, Siobahn Burke of The New York Times said, “They have the pristine technique but none of the rigidity that comes with that kind of training….They’re both humble and sparklingly present.” During their residency, Malpaso will deliver two free performances June 2 and June 3 at the Ohio Theatre in Playhouse Square. Each performance, which will feature a pre-performance talk and post-performance question and answer session with the dancers, will include a new work titled “Indomitable Waltz,” choreographed by renowned choreographer Aszure Barton. The work, co-commissioned specifically for the Cleveland residency by DANCECleveland and the Cleveland Foundation, will have its Midwest premiere at the Ohio Theatre before touring nationally and internationally. While in Cleveland, the Malpaso dancers will also lead educational master classes with local dancers, teach at the Cleveland State University Dance Intensive and have studio time to rehearse and create new work.
  • Verb Ballets will bring artist Laura Alonso, daughter of world famous Cuban ballerina Alicia Alonso and renowned ballet teacher and coach Fernando Alonso, to Cleveland for a residency in February and March 2017. Laura Alonso, herself a renowned ballet teacher with a 25-year career performing with Ballet Nacional de Cuba, will train Verb Ballets dancers, host master classes in the community and stage a select repertoire from Ballet Cuba. Alonso will collaborate with 2016 Doris Duke Artist Award recipient and multi-award winning local artist Dianne McIntyre, whose career spans four decades with choreography for dance, theatre, television and film. During the residency, Alonso and McIntyre will gather stories from residents at Eliza Bryant and Eliza Jennings nursing homes and bring the residents’ personal stories to life in choreographed dances, tentatively titled “Dancing Memories.”

For more information about Creative Fusion and the spring 2017 residency, visit and follow #CLEvana and #CLExHAV across Cleveland Foundation and host organization social media properties.


Established in 1914, the Cleveland Foundation is the world’s first community foundation and one of the largest today, with assets of $2.1 billion and 2015 grants of $95 million. Through the generosity of donors, the foundation improves the lives of residents of Cuyahoga, Lake and Geauga Counties by building community endowment, addressing needs through grantmaking, and providing leadership on vital issues. The foundation tackles the community’s priority areas – education and youth development, neighborhoods, health and human services, arts and culture, economic development and purposeful aging – and responds to the community’s needs.

For more information on the Cleveland Foundation, visit and follow us on, Twitter @CleveFoundation and Instagram @CleveFoundation.