The Newman University Steckline Gallery will present “Travels in Cuba” by Larry Schwarm and students as the sixth show of its 2014-2015 season. This exhibit of photography is one of only five art exhibits the Wichita Eagle described as “Must-See” for the 2014-15 season. It will begin with a Final Friday reception from 5 to 7 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 27 and will be on display through March. 20. Both the reception and admission to the gallery are free and open to the public.
An “Art for Lunch” presentation by the artist will be held from noon to 1 p.m. Tuesday, March 3 in the gallery. A light lunch will be served on a first-come, first-served basis. Guests can also bring their lunch. This event is also free and reservations are not required.
Schwarm began the process of legally traveling to Cuba in 2000.
“Having grown up during the period when Cuba was considered an evil and mysterious country closed off to Americans, I have always been intrigued and wanted to travel there,” Schwarm said.
He received a United States license to travel to Cuba to photograph agricultural practices in 2012. Upon arriving in Cienfuegos, Schwarm encountered a country that seemed stuck in a time warp.
“It was awash in pre-1958 American automobiles, mechanical, not even electric, typewriters, wringer washing machines, and manual labor for everything from sweeping streets with brooms to working fields with oxen,” Schwarm said. “For two weeks I traveled on my own and was greeted by some of the most open and friendly people I had ever met.”
Schwarm has been a professor at Wichita State University for two years with a goal of offering students an international trip every spring in order to introduce them to new experiences. In March of 2014 Schwarm and six students – Mallory Chambers, Dwight Corrin, Gloria Esparza, Kelsy Gossett, Tyler Longfellow, and Bruce Ward – flew from Wichita to Havana.
“Unknown to us, we were in Cuba just months before an enormous change in United States–Cuban relations, when on Dec. 17, 2014, it was announced that, after over 50 years, the United States would reopen diplomatic relations with Cuba,” Schwarm said.
The photographs in this exhibit share their experiences in Cuba and serve as a document of a country on the cusp of change.
The Steckline Gallery is located inside the De Mattias Fine Arts Center on the Newman campus, 3100 McCormick. The gallery is open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., or by appointment. For more information, call 316-942-4291, ext. 2199.