Volume 1, Issue 5 2016

Quince Sellos Cubanos

Photographs by Maria Martinez-Cañas

When we think of Florida in terms of travel, we are mindful of the numbers of people who have come here to stay, and of the tenuous and fragile connections they maintain with the places of their birth. We think about how not only people, but objects and texts, can move from place to place, reinforcing routes, roots, memory, knowledge and fiction. Miami artist Maria Martinez-Cañas was born in Cuba and raised in Puerto Rico and her strong sense of her familial and personal history is evident in all of her work. The early project Quince Sellos Cubanos (1991-1992) considers the postage stamp—that most fragile and quotidian of traveling artifacts---as the material manifestation of human connection between her birthplace and her current home. Inspired by a stamp collection given to her by her sister, Martinez-Cañas has selected Cuban stamps dating from the 1930s to the post Revolutionary 1970s, drawing on their typically celebrational imagery of maps, cigars, Cuban painting, famous men, and important buildings to explore the imagined Cuba she does not remember, using stamps she could never have used. Her response to the stamps has inspired her distinctive collages of thorny organic shapes that suggest jungles, dreams, and the work of Cuba’s great Afro-Cuban surrealist, Wifredo Lam, combining pure abstraction with figurative drawing and fragments of found photographs.
---Alison Nordström, PhD

Quince Sellos Cubanos consists of fifteen original Cuban stamps and fifteen gelatin silver prints in an edition of 15, with five Artist's Proofs.