“In our work, there will always be a philosophy unique to our community and its people that we want to portray as painters. Our objective is to guarantee that the traditions of our community are preserved along with our cultural identity.” —Luis El Estudiante Rodriguez, Painter, El Grupo Bayate

At this year’s International Folk Art Market | Santa Fe, Luis El Estudiante Rodriquez will represent the work of El Grupo Bayate and its more than a dozen members. Founded in 1994, this art collective from the small town of Mella, outside of Santiago de Cuba, aims to protect and promote the artwork and cultural importance of their historic town.

Their brightly colored oil paintings are based on every day life in their community: local villagers, baseball players, fisherman, musicians, and cultural traditions. Each piece expresses a sense of belonging and the great love the artists have for their home.

El Grupo Bayate first attended the Market in 2014 and returned home inspired to create positive change through their artwork. They are now reinforcing their visibility and social responsibility in Mella by building a small space to hold art exhibits and to welcome visitors. Their dedication to their community has only strengthened this past year, deciding to include the work of eight additional artists for the 2015 Market.

In addition to their paintings, El Grupo Bayate creates public murals, aimed at instilling pride in their community. They have established art classes for children and women, as well as organizing community art and cultural projects. Each artist of El Grupo Bayate works toward the good of their community and unique culture, ensuring the legacy of Mella and its art.

The 2015 International Folk Art Market | Santa Fe welcomes the work of 17 master Cuban folk artists. In addition to the painters of El Grupo Bayate, the work of Cenia Gutiérrez Alfonso, Carlos Cáceres Valladares, Roberto Gil Esteban, and Nancy Reyes Suarez will be showcased as well. Though their styles, subjects, and techniques vary, all of these talented Cuban artists shine a bright light on their homeland and traditions. This group is one of the largest contingents of master Cuban painters showing their work in the United States.

Want to visit Cuba and see the inspiration behind these beautiful paintings?

The International Folk Art Alliance offers a chance to see in person what is so beautifully represented in the work of these 17 artists. In February 2016, our Passport to Folk Art trip to Cuba will take you to the Eastern Provinces and Havana, with activities including museums, dance performances, lectures, and concerts. This trip gives you the opportunity to visit with artists from the 2013, 2014, and 2015 Markets. Click here to learn more.

Be sure to stop by Booths #107 and #108 at this year’s Market to meet the artists who are presenting and preserving Cuba’s traditions for years to come.

Photos from left: Roberto Gil EstebanNancy Reyes SuarezEl Grupo BayateCenia Gutiérrez AlfonsoCarlos Cáceres Valladares

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