POWELL, Wyo. - When “Cuba!” opens Thursday, Sept. 12, in Powell, Big Horn Basin residents will have a rare opportunity to glimpse everyday life inside the island country — as seen through the eyes of American citizens.
The photography exhibit opens with a 7 p.m. artists’ reception in SinClair Gallery at Northwest College. The collection of 66 photographs was created by 22 Northwest College students and faculty who explored Cuba in June as part of a 10-day field studies class.
Excursions to Cuba from America aren’t common because it’s only legal for Americans to travel there on licensed trips that involve cultural or educational exchanges with Cubans. These licenses are granted to just a handful of tour operators who offer “people-to-people” trips.
“We feel very fortunate we were able to travel to Cuba, to expose our students to learning opportunities that are so rare,” said Anthony Polvere, the NWC associate professor of photography who led the class.
“What stood out most to many of us,” Polvere said, “was seeing evidence of certain segments of Cuban society begin the transition to a market economy. Also, the high level of education of most of the populace and the lack of homelessness in the city of Havana were pretty apparent.”
He said students encountered old cars everywhere, and viewers can expect to see that represented in the exhibit.
"Very few Cubans can afford newer model cars, or even get their hands on them. So they keep the old ones going with whatever means are available to them. In some ways, going there is like stepping back in time," he said, adding that the group also saw many Soviet-era cars like the Lada.
“Cuba!” hangs in SinClair Gallery through Oct. 25. Located in the Orendorff Building at Northwest College, the gallery is open from 8 a.m.-5 p.m. weekdays. Admission is free.