If summer and fall of 2015 had offered plenty of opportunities to strengthen the already solid connection that W&M has with the island, the spring would be no exception. Nevertheless, two were the highlights of the semester: a trip to Cuba for the 16 students enrolled in Prof. Ann Marie Stock’s New Media Workshop, and the Tack Lecture (March 31), during which, in front of a packed Commonwealth Auditorium, Prof. Stock offered her most valuable insights on Cuban culture (especially its visual culture) over the last half century.
As a piloting effort within W&M’s New College Curriculum, during the spring Prof. Stock and Troy Davis (Director of Swem’s Media Services) taught a course titled New Media Workshop: Curate-Connect-Cuba. Much of the content of the course revolved around a most unique experience: a trip to Cuba during spring break. The 16 students enrolled in the course, alongside Prof. Stock, Troy Davis, Jennie Davy (Exhibits’ Coordinator, Swem Library), and David Culver (W&M ’09) spent an unforgettable week in Cuba developing several projects. One group of students gathered information that would help them curate the exhibit of carteles de cine designed for “ghost films” that were never produced. Another group documented the progress of the workshop in general, and captured the experience of traveling to the island. One of the products of this work is the piece produced by Kayla Sharpe. A third group worked very hard on documenting interviews and developing an institutional profile for Televisión Serrana. Finally, another team undertook a collaborative art project between elementary students in Cuba and in Virginia seeking to build interpersonal and international bridges.
For a more detailed account of the students’ experience, please consult the article authored by one of the participants of the New Media Workshop, Alexandra Granato, “Curate, Connect, Cuba.”
Back in Williamsburg, Prof. Stock shared her decades of experience and insider knowledge on Cuba with W&M and the Williamsburg community at large as part of a Tack Lecture, “Remix and Revolution in Cuba. Screening the Island’s Transformation through Cinema.” The event allowed Prof. Stock to remind us that, during the 50 years of broken relations between the US and Cuba, our understanding of the island lagged, as if frozen in time: “Most of us in the United States don’t know much about the country. The politics and practices of both governments have resulted in keeping us apart and both peoples in the dark for the last half-century. We tend to envision Cuba as stuck in time, a place that’s not changing, a place that’s static.”
In order to remedy this situation, Prof. Stock felt compelled to do her part in establishing connections and shared projects and experiences with colleagues and creators on the island over the last three decades: “It became clear that I would encourage creativity and foster collaboration and forge connections. I would experiment with what event to research and what event to teach students as scholars…. Part of my work has been to document what’s going on in Cuba’s film world and that’s been a window to the larger world.”
Prof. Stock’s full lecture is available here.