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Cuba: Ideology, Landscape, and Power

July 17 - August 10, 2017

Priority Deadline for Scholarship Consideration: December 1, 2016

Registration Deadline: February 1, 2017

Smaller than the state of Virginia, Cuba possesses an ecological and geographical uniqueness that makes it an anomaly amongst its neighboring islands and nations as well as rendering it an agent of change. Students will explore the ways in which personal and collective identity is expressed in Cuban culture through the arts. From the monumental modernist structures of Plaza de la Revolución, to the idealist architecture of the Instituto Superior de Arte, to contemporary art venues such as the Havana Biennale, the Wilfredo Lam Center, the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes, or the unsanctioned public performance works of artists such as Tania Bruguera, students will explore the complexities and richness of personal expression in public places where such expression is often limited, restricted, or pre-determined.

This course weaves together artistic practice, site-specific research, documentation, and reading discussion. The class will develop a deeper understanding of the colonial and postcolonial history of Cuba while considering the unique geographical and ecological attributes that make it one of the most colorful, dynamic, and vital cultures in the Western hemisphere. Students will gain a deep understanding of the ecological, political, and artistic history of Cuba and, to some extent, the currently unfolding drama with recent changes in relations between Cuba and the US.

In addition to regular fieldtrips and outdoor fieldwork, this course will emphasize the cultural production of art within personal, social and political structures in Cuba, fusing reading and seminar-style conversations with guest artists, historians, architects, scientists, activists, and educators. The summer session includes gallery visits, museum visits, interactions with artistic communities and educational programs, and exploration of neighborhoods, agricultural sites, and sites steeped in political memory and its commemoration. The session will take place primarily in Havana, however other locations on the island of Cuba will also be included throughout our time there.


David Brooks' work considers the relationship between the individual and the built and natural environment, questioning the terms under which nature is perceived and utilized. He has taught at RISD, Parsons, Columbia, and MICA. He has exhibited throughout Europe, North America, and Asia. David has been participating in ongoing fieldwork with biologists across the Amazon and South Florida since 2005.

Sarah Doherty‘s work explores the intersections of art, architecture, urban spaces, and technology through installation art and urban intervention projects. In addition to gallery and museum exhibitions, Sarah has developed numerous public projects and unique exhibition venues for artists. Prior to teaching at MICA, she was an instructor at the University of San Diego and MIT.

Program Fees

  • $5,000 Includes tuition for 3 undergraduate credits in Interdisciplinary Sculpture
  • Graduate credit is available to qualified students for $85 per credit above the base fee (contact program coordinator).


Contact program coordinator Sarah Doherty at

Open to undergraduate and graduate students in all majors-18 years or older with a valid passport-who have completed at least one year of college. For all programs, credits can be applied to Studio Elective. For more information, or to inquire about scholarships, contact MICA Open Studies at or 410-225-2219.

This page was last updated on 10/18/2016.