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In this interview, Ricardo Viera and Juan Boza discuss the latter’s artistic training in Cuba, including the schools that he attended; the awards that he won; his job as a designer at the Coliseo Nacional de Cultura [National Coliseum of Culture] from 1967–70; his professional affiliations; the condition of insularity that involves isolation; and his artwork in general. Emphasis is placed on the transformation of his work from being grounded on “science fiction”—as Boza called it—to Santería-based production when he immigrated to the United States. Boza also discusses how his pieces differ from the Afro-Cuban work of Wifredo Lam.
Artist and curator Ricardo Viera was born in Havana, Cuba, in 1945. Since 1974 he has lived in Pennsylvania where he is director and curator of the Lehigh University Art Galleries (Bethlehem, Pennsylvania). Juan Boza (1941–1991) was a Cuban-born artist and initiate of Santería, the most popular Afro-religion in Cuba. He immigrated to the United States in 1980 as part of the Mariel boatlift. Once in New York, his work began to focus on Afro-Cuban based religions, which he interpreted artistically. This text appears in a chapter about the 1996 anthology on Boza’s work, Santería Aesthetics in Contemporary Latin American Art, edited by Arturo Lindsay. The chapter also includes excerpts from the artist's final statement registered in 1991 (see doc. no. 847660); an essay by Viera (see doc. no. 847679); and another one by Randall Morris (see doc. no. 847786).