For Ava Socik ’12, Cuba means “salsa groups playing, domino games on the street, the cigars [and] the beaches,” and her Sudler-funded photography exhibition now up in the Morse College Gallery, “Cuba: Rum, Cigars, and Old American Cars!” shows us all this and more. Walk into the space, and you feel like you’re inside a kaleidoscope: colors scream at you from every wall. Nothing escapes her camera. Nature beckons; tobacco farmers and children come alive with the energy of human activity; vintage automobiles shine.
Some of Socik’s images simply cannot be missed. In one, a royal blue sky hangs large over a row of minuscule houses as a single purple cloud floats by. As twilight transforms into night, Socik snatches a stunning moment of stillness.
In another, a plump Cuban woman sits with a cigar in her mouth and stares at the viewer. The colors are impeccably balanced: a bright yellow wall, a pristine white blouse, a scarlet fan for a splash of flair.
Yet despite the brilliance of the images, the collection lacks a cohesive thread. The photographs seemed to have been placed randomly, rather than chosen and ordered deliberately to create a holistic cultural journey.
Socik argues that we all have “certain expectations” about Cuba, but the reality is “completely different”. Although the show doesn’t quite put its finger on that reality, it’s certainly worth a peek. It runs through Thanksgiving break.