Cubaba: Miami artist explores images, identities & memory in striking new show


April 16, 1998

By Andrew Delaplaine

1998-wire-storyMiami artist Xavier Cortada addresses issues of culture and identity in his solo exhibit titled “Cubaba” at the Art Center / South Florida, 1037 Lincoln Road, now through May 9th. “The paintings are really about growing up Cuban in Miami and growing up in Cuban Miami,” says Cortada. “They distill the swirl of images of Cuban nostalgia and American reality as seen by someone who grew up in the middle of the exile enclave.”

The exhibit’s title, “Cubaba,” is actually the painter’s college fraternity nickname. It was coined by a fellow student who mispronounced Cortada’s name. Cortada created an alter ego name CUBABA that combined stereotypical elements of Hispanic culture and Anglo-American college life. The experience of fashioning a new hybridized identity in his life outside the Cuban exile community mirrors the unconscious and constant re-negotiation of identity that characterizes exile life. This is particularly true of the generation that finds itself “on the hyphen.”

“The exhibit is truly a cultural celebration,” he says. “about then and now. About identity and belonging. About being Cuban, being American, being both, and being neither.”1998-wire-cover