Organicarte: Bringing more Hispanic Culture to UM

For artist Tiffany Madera, art devoid of color was not really art at all.

Without the representation of the Latin and Caribbean peoples, it lacked a multitude of deep brown, yellow, beige and red skin tone hues.

To answer that deficiency, Madera, a Cuban American, created Organicarte, which brings Latin American and Caribbean arts and artists to the University of Miami in 2008.

Organicarte, a word she coined, presents interactive programming such as workshops by native Peruvian sculptors, dance and spoken word performances, and film series to incorporate art into the study of Latin America and the Caribbean.

“I would love for students to take away from each event deeper aspects of themselves and their community,” Madera said.

During Hispanic Heritage Month, Organicarte is now presenting a two-part Latin American Film series on both Human Rights and Cuba at Cosford Cinema.

The series includes films such as “Hidden Scars,” a movie about Guatemalan torture survivors exiled in the United States and “Celia the Queen,” a documentary about the Cuban salsa sensation’s life.

Designed to give students an interactive interface with the artists, Madera said that Organicarte seeks to bring different people together and create unexpected and fruitful spaces for dialogue.

On Oct. 12, Organicarte will screen “Poto Mitan,” a film about Haitian women and the global economy, at Cosford Cinema at 7 p.m. It will be accompanied by a Q&A session with the film’s co-producer and co-director Mark Schuller.

“The director is going to be in the midst of people who are active in Haitian organizations and organizations that empower women’s rights,” said Daniella Suarez, a 22-year-old Latin American Studies graduate assistant. “So, he may talk but he’s also going to learn from the audience and learn what their concerns are.”

Organicarte is also planning a major Cuba-Haiti ethno-conference in March 2010, which Madera said would give a comparative look at Cuba and Haiti through an insider’s view of the two cultures.

Students from the Ciné Institute, Haiti’s only film school, will come to Miami for a week and pair up with UM counterparts.

Suarez said that together the students would create documentary films to change the negative foreign perception of Haiti’s future.

The ethno-conference will also incorporate performance poetry and photography.

Despite the center’s Latin American namesake, Madera said CLAS includes the Caribbean, as Haiti remains a relevant part of Organicarte and the Miami community.

Haitians account for the second largest immigrant group in Miami-Dade County, according to recent U.S. Census Bureau statistics.

“Part of the challenge is to educate people past stereotype, past ‘exoticized’ images of Latin American and the Caribbean,” said Madera, “And, you know, the truth is, it’s very, very complex.”

Through another Organicarte program, the “Distinguished Speakers Series,” in the spring 2010 semester, UM and FIU professors will trade campuses and speak on social, political and foreign themes.

Organicarte programming is free and open to students across all disciplines with most events open to the public. Although the events are diverse, their objectives are the same.

“The whole point of Organicarte is to break through barriers,” said Suarez. “To not have one side of things, and that’s the whole point of art in general. You can’t interpret art in one way and say that’s the correct way.”