Skip to Main Content

Latino Americans: 500 Years of History, 100 Years in New Jersey

Rutgers University Libraries NEH/ALA Grant Project 2015-2016

Rutgers New Brunswick Ray Suarez 10-22-15

Cuban Photo Exhibit--Ilya Genin

Ukrainian Photographer Ilya Genin Offers a Provocative Take on Modern Day Cuba in Exhibit at Rutgers Art Library

February 22, 2016
Genin artwork

Ilya Genin illuminates modern day Cuba with photography and collage. This illustration is used courtesy of the author. Copyright Ilya Genin.

The Rutgers University Art Library will display work by New Jersey artist, Ilya Genin from Monday, February 22nd through Thursday March 31st. The exhibit will kick off with a public celebration on Thursday, March 3rd, from 4:30-5:30 in the Art Library (Voorhees Hall, 71 Hamilton Street, New Brunswick, NJ 08901-1248).

Ilya Genin is an artist renowned for beautiful and provocative artistic representations of present day Cuba. Working in photography and digital collage form, Genin’s art probes essential questions about collisions between African and Spanish cultures, capitalism and communism, religion and sexual independence, and necessity and principle.

“Genin uses digital collages to express that Cuba has been the subject of extraordinary mash-ups,” explains Princeton-based photographer Ricardo Barros. “Cubans have harnessed diverse, sometimes conflicting forces to forge an imperfect union. Like Cuba itself, Ilya Genin’s vision is complex. It is tinged with darkness, as well as with hope.”

Born and raised in Ukraine, Genin first learned of Cuba through Soviet messaging, sparking a life-long interest. Now an American citizen and a cardiologist with a busy New Jersey practice, Genin has traveled to Cuba many times, camera in hand to capture the people, places, and activities of the island. Thanks to recent political changes, Cuba is once again at the fore of American cultural imagination, imbuing Genin’s work with greater significance.

Genin’s exhibition at the Art Library is presented as part of the ‘Latino Americans: 500 Years of History’ grant project funded by the American Library Association and the National Endowment for the Humanities, in conjunction with the PBS Series. Project director Nancy C. Kranich hopes Genin’s work will generate greater interest and understanding in Cuba’s history and modern-day diplomatic relations with the United States.

“I’m thrilled that this NEH/ALA grant: Latino Americans: 500 Years of History, provides Rutgers and other New Jersey community members an opportunity to see such a moving, up-close, illustrative picture of life in contemporary Cuban society,” says Kranich. “Viewers will come away with a deeper understanding and appreciation of the Cuban, Latino, and human experience shaped by historic circumstances that have contributed to day-to-day life in a place that is foreign to many Americans, but will soon become more familiar as we forge closer ties to our nearby neighbor.”

Previously, Genin’s work has been exhibited to fellow photographers and to Cuban audiences in Havana, so this exhibit is an opportunity to reach new audiences, according to the photographer.

“I jumped at the opportunity to show my work to an entirely different audience—young men and women on their way to become full-fledged members of the intellectual elite who will bear the burden of making far-reaching decisions in our complicated world,” Genin explains. “I could not think of a better audience to ponder questions about the changes in Cuban society in the coming months and years than up and coming thinkers, shakers, and movers who are present in this preeminent higher ed institution of a state which is home to so many Cubans who could not bear to live under the Castro regime.”

Dan Figueredo, a librarian and author of children’s books and chronicler of the Latino experience in the United States, played a key role in bringing Genin’s work to Rutgers University.  “As a graduate of the School of Communication and Information at Rutgers University–New Brunswick, editor of theEncyclopedia of Cuba, and author of A Brief History of the Caribbean, I’m proud of the contribution Rutgers University is making to a broader understanding of Cuba’s history and the courage of the Cuban people,” says Figueredo. “Ilya’s artistic sensibility allows him to focus on the nuances of the daily survival of the Cuban people celebrating with them the humanity they bring forth regardless of doctrine and political agendas.”

And, according to Barros, it is this emphasis on the humanity of the people of Cuba that makes the exhibit a not-to-be-missed event: “Genin affirms that Cubans have nothing to apologize for, but his photographs also show us much more. We see that Cubans are self-aware, scarred, secure, passionate, practical, involved, engaged, acquiescent, loving, and, most of all, human.”

To learn more about the Latino Americans 500 Years of History initiatives on the Rutgers campuses and libraries in New Jersey please visit:

Latino Americans: 500 Years of History has been made possible through a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities and the American Library Association

Julia Alvarez Visits Rutgers

*READING: Writers at Rutgers presents author Julia Alvarez

Thursday, March 3 at 8 PM

Rutgers Student Center, MPR

126 College Avenue, New Brunswick, New Jersey

In her recent memoir A Wedding in Haitiacclaimed Dominican novelist and poet Julia Alvarez travels beyond borders and between families to reflect on the joys and burdens of love for her parents, for her husband, and for a young Haitian boy known as Piti. In this intimate true account of a promise kept, Alvarez takes us on a journey into experiences that challenge our way of thinking about history and how it can be reimagined when people from two countries--traditional enemies and strangers become friends.

Julia Alvarez is an award winning  Dominican-American poet, novelist, and essayist whose work includes Homecoming (1984), How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents (1991), In the Time of the Butterflies (1994), Yo! (1997), Something to Declare (1998), Woman I Kept to Myself (2004), and Saving the World(2006).  

Presented in partnership with the Department of English and the Writers at Rutgers Series. Program is free and open to the public.


*CONVERSATION: Border of Lights Project with author Julia Alvarez

Friday, March 4, 10 AM-1 PM

Trayes Hall, Douglass Student Center

100 George Street, New Brunswick NJ

Join us for a conversation and lunch with Ms. Alvarez about the project, Border of Lights, a human rights collective formed in 2012 that uses art, education and policy making as social justice and conflict resolution tools in the Dominican Republic and the Haiti. For more information about Border of Lights, visit

Program free and open to the publicPlease register at



The Center for Latino Arts and Culture's (CLAC) was established in 1992 to research, document, interpret and promote Latin@, Hispanic, Caribbean, and Latin American arts and culture. CLAC seeks to build a student-centered, learning community where students can better integrate experiential, academic and service learning about Latino arts and culture in order to become strong leaders and responsible global citizens. We advocate for the wellbeing of our students and work to create effective access to University services and resources. Through dynamic collaboration with other academic and student affairs units, the Center works to enhance Latino student recruitment, retention and successful graduation at Rutgers University.

For more information about the Latino community at Rutgers Universitymore upcoming events and opportunities for involvement, please visit us at:


This series of events is part of Latino Americans: 500 Years of History, a collaborative project of Rutgers University Libraries, the CLAC, and public libraries in New Jersey, made possible through a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities and the American Library Association.  See the project guide at:


© , Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey

Rutgers is an equal access/equal opportunity institution. Individuals with disabilities are encouraged to direct suggestions, comments, or complaints concerning any accessibility issues with Rutgers websites to or complete the Report Accessibility Barrier / Provide Feedback form.