LAWRENCE — Three weeks after the announcement that the U.S. and Cuba would be normalizing relations, nine University of Kansas design students and two instructors traveled to Havana and Miami for a winter-break study abroad trip, led by Assistant Professor of Design Tim Hossler.
“Miami+Havana,” an exhibition of documentary work, opened Feb. 2 in the A&D Gallery and runs through Feb. 13.
The trip, which was organized through the KU Office of Study Abroad, is part of an ongoing series of Comparing Cultures trips developed by Hossler. Last year his students traveled to London and Paris.
“The concept of the Miami and Havana trip was to explore the myth and reality of these two cities. They have a similar history and culture, but they are also distinctly different,” he said. “The students are asked to question what makes these cities unique and to document it through photographs, video and writing.”
Selections of work from the exhibit can be seen here.
Starting with a pre-trip reading list that included Joan Didion’s book of social and political analysis “Miami,” and Graham Greene’s novel “Our Man in Havana,” allowed students to envision what each place would be like before they arrived.
But, Hossler said, “The chance that relations between our countries might be normalized put a whole new perspective on things.”
“When I signed up for the trip I felt very few Americans would have the opportunity to go to Cuba,” said student Jennifer Beck. “It was a great chance for me to learn a lot but also to share with others something that, for now, is difficult for most to experience on their own. This exhibition is a visual collage of our experiences of the architecture, culture, and people of these places.”
A reception for “Miami+Havana” will take place 6-8 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 5.
The A&D Gallery is on the third floor of the Art & Design Building. Hours are 1-4 p.m. Sundays, 8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Monday-Wednesday, 8:30 a.m.-9 p.m. Thursday and 8:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. Friday. It is closed Saturdays.